By Nina Edward
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), refugees are “people who have fled war, violence, conflict, or persecution and have crossed an international border to find safety in another country.” Forcibly displaced people are internally displaced people (IDPs), asylum seekers, and refugees, and out of these three categories, refugees are the only group with protection under international law. As of January 2021, there were 82.4 million forcibly displaced people around the world, 30 million of those being refugees.
Despite the pandemic causing border closures and the world itself to be put on pause, 1.27 million people became refugees in 2020. The circumstances of the pandemic was not enough to stop the violence, conflict and persecution which causes people to flee. In 2019, the United States received 32,000 refugees. This number dwindled to only 8,500 in 2020, mainly from Venezuela, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
Amidst the changing world due to the pandemic, the first COVID-19 vaccination center in a refugee camp opened in Zaatari, Jordan, the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world. So far, ⅓ of refugees who are eligible for vaccinations have received one in this center.
The number of refugees has more than doubled over the past decade from 15 million in 2011 to 30 million in 2020. Out of these 30 million, 88% are from only 12 countries, and 55% are from only three: Syria, Palestine, and Venezuela. The opportunity of where to go for refugees is limited as well, as of 2020, 65% of the world’s refugees go to only 16 countries, mainly developing countries.