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January 03, 2024

Six humanitarian crises that impacted refugees and displaced communities in 2023

By the end of 2023, a heartbreaking 114 million people globally were forcibly displaced due to war, violence, persecution and the impact of climate-related disasters. Families struggling through longstanding crises in Syria, Myanmar and Ukraine continued to need protection while new violence in Sudan and an escalation of conflict in Armenia uprooted millions of people — many for a second time in their lives. 

Despite these challenges and increased need, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) was on the ground working tirelessly to provide lifesaving aid, protection and hope to displaced communities.  

Learn about six humanitarian crises that pushed displaced communities to the brink in 2023 and how UNHCR stepped in to provide lifesaving aid.

Sudan Conflict 

South Sudanese woman fleeing conflict in Sudan

On April 15th, 2023, deadly armed conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan and the resumption of inter-communal violence in the Darfur region forced more than 7 million people from their homes. 

Since the violence erupted, civilians have been killed and wounded, while hundreds of thousands of families have been uprooted, both within the country and across borders to neighboring countries like Egypt, Chad, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

The UN Refugee Agency has been working with government authorities and partners to support new arrivals, set up transit centers where people can rest and receive essential protection services and emergency supplies, and has established and expanded camps where they can access longer-term support.  

Armenia Refugee Crisis

Armenia girl at a reception center in Goris

At the end of September 2023, following the escalation of a decades-long conflict in the South Caucasus region, a large number of refugees rapidly started arriving in Armenia. Within a week, 100,000 refugees crossed the border and arrived in Goris, a small border town in southeastern Armenia.

The total number of new arrivals represents 3.3 percent of Armenia's entire population. Of the 101,800 refugees who have sought refuge in Armenia, 52 percent are women and girls, 31 percent are children and 18 percent are older persons. Many of these new arrivals are particularly vulnerable, including the elderly, people with disabilities, pregnant women and newborns.

Since the start of the crisis, UNHCR has been on the ground working closely with the Armenian government to closely monitor the situation, provide immediate assistance and assess the needs of refugees. UNHCR has also offered protection, counseling and information to refugees, as well as technical equipment to support the government's registration of refugees and new arrivals.

Conflict in The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

In October 2023, ongoing fighting between the Congolese army and non-state armed groups in eastern DRC intensified and continued to displace individuals in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri. The conflict has affected over 7 million people, and as of early December 2023, has displaced more than 450,000 civilians across the region.

The severity of the crisis has been further exacerbated by the limited humanitarian access to those in vital need, primarily due to the obstruction of major routes. Cut off from essential humanitarian aid, nearly 200,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) have been stranded and continue to face dire conditions. Disease outbreaks, including cholera and measles, continue to ravage IDP sites in North Kivu which are already facing overcrowding and lack of drinking water. The spike in violence has also had a devastating impact on the lives of children, who are facing an alarming number of serious violations of their rights.

Amidst this insecurity, UNHCR and its partners continue to provide lifesaving aid to displaced populations and leads the humanitarian response responsible for shelter, protection and camp coordination and camp management (CCCM) — which offer vital services to vulnerable populations, like women, children and the elderly. 

Climate Emergencies in the Horn of Africa, Libya and Afghanistan

In 2022, nearly 32 million people were displaced due to weather-related hazards, and that number is expected to rise as climate emergencies such as drought in the Horn of Africa, floods in Libya and earthquakes in Afghanistan uprooted millions from their homes in 2023.

Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia experienced their sixth failed rainy season, causing millions from around the region to struggle to feed their children and forcing them to flee their homes due to scarce water sources, hunger, insecurity and conflict. UNHCR works with partners across the region to provide cash-based assistance and lifesaving aid, including clean water, food and sanitation items to refugee and internally displaced families facing food insecurity.

In early September of last year, Storm Daniel and the collapse of two dams in Derna, Libya, claimed thousands of lives and left thousands more missing. The floods displaced an estimated 42,000 people, including 16,700 people in Derna and 4,850 people in Al Bayada. Since the onset of the emergency, UNHCR has been on the ground providing emergency aid, healthcare, shelter, and essential supplies such as tarps, blankets, solar lamps and soaps.

In October of last year, two deadly earthquakes hit Afghanistan, severely destroying and damaging more than 30,000 homes, and resulting in at least 1,480 deaths and the displacement of thousands. Since the devastating earthquakes, UNHCR and its local partners have been on the ground, assessing people's needs and delivering tents, blankets, solar lamps and other vital necessities to those in need.

How to help…

In 2023, UNHCR worked tirelessly to ensure that displaced people and their host communities received the life-saving aid, protection, and hope they needed amidst the uncertainties and challenges they faced.

This year, you, too, can help ensure that the needs of all displaced communities are met by becoming USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor. Through your kindness and generosity, displaced families can receive cash assistance, core relief items and other vital necessities needed to survive.