117 Million Forced to Flee: “An Utter Failure to Protect Civilians”

In an alarming statement, Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, has highlighted the unprecedented scale of global displacement, with over 117 million people forced to flee conflict, violence, and persecution. The new global displacement figures underscore a grave crisis, reflecting a systemic failure to protect civilians worldwide.

“Never before in recorded history have so many people in so many countries been fleeing conflict, violence, and persecution,” Egeland stated. “Every year for more than a decade, we have documented new record numbers of both refugees and those internally displaced due to the brutality of armed men, faltering conflict resolution diplomacy, and global failure to protect civilians. New wars and emergencies are added to all the unresolved crises, resulting in more than 117 million people facing desperate situations.”

Egeland criticized national, regional, and global leaders for their inaction, questioning, “How long will national, regional, and global leaders fail to take decisive action to protect civilians? From Sudan to Ukraine, and from Burkina Faso to Gaza, civilians are driven from their homes and then often forgotten, their needs neglected for years or even decades.”

In Europe and North America, political debates increasingly center on punitive policies aimed at turning away desperate refugees. Egeland noted that many wealthy countries are evading their responsibilities by implementing policies to keep refugees at a distance or even to send them away, leading millions to suffer in inhumane conditions.

“More than two-thirds of refugees remain in neighboring countries,” Egeland pointed out. “A handful of nations are hosting the majority of displaced people globally. Some nations, like Iran, Lebanon, Türkiye, and Uganda, host millions of refugees despite limited resources, whilst other wealthier nations make every effort to avoid fulfilling their duty.”

The latest figures represent another failure of international solidarity and coordination. As the number of displaced people grows, humanitarian and developmental funding continues to decline. Egeland highlighted that vast crises in places like DR Congo, Sudan, and the Central Sahel region remain largely ignored by both media and donors.

“This cannot continue,” Egeland urged. “There must be a renewed effort to provide civilians with the protection they are entitled to and to ensure that financial support matches the scale of the human suffering represented in today’s figures.”

Egeland’s statement is a stark reminder of the urgent need for global action and solidarity. As displacement figures continue to rise, the international community must prioritize the protection and support of civilians caught in the crossfire of conflicts and crises worldwide.

“How many more years can these numbers grow whilst much of the world continues to look the other way?”