The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

IRC's David Miliband Responds to New Record Number of 79.5 Million Refugees and Displaced People Around the World

With the “Double emergency” of displacement and COVID-19, the IRC calls on governments to step up funding and diplomatic efforts.New IRC analysis shows that vulnerable people in countries hosting the highest refugee populations need an immediate cash boost of $760 million to prevent COVID hunger and economic crisis.


David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said: "Today's record-setting figures arrive at a desperate time for refugees and displaced people around the world, who now face an unimaginable double emergency: conflict and displacement itself, alongside COVID-19 and the global economic crisis it has generated.

"Crisis-affected countries that host most of the world's displaced are combating COVID-19 with extremely limited resources - South Sudan has only four ventilators, more than half of Yemen's health facilities are no longer functioning, in Venezuela, 90% of hospitals lack essential medicine and supplies. Now these countries and the displaced families sheltering within them confront the social, economic and political havoc the pandemic is triggering.

"These two emergencies are powered by a clear failure of global leadership when it comes to strategic and immediate help for the world's most vulnerable amidst a global pandemic. These numbers should serve as a wake-up call to the international community on the human cost of war, and the social and economic implications exacerbated by COVID-19.

"The U.S. and other global leaders must first return to the core diplomatic business of negotiating ceasefires and humanitarian access to the conflict zones that are driving the displacement and misery in the first place. All leaders should heed the UN Secretary General's call and push for ceasefires in active conflicts as well as humanitarian exceptions for all restrictions related to COVID-19. Second, leaders must ramp up the funding for NGOs like the IRC that provide a lifeline amidst a pandemic and who are already on the ground in these contexts and can mobilize quickly. And third, leaders should mobilize their political and economic leverage to bring about sustainable political settlements and economic development that are at the root of today's shocking displacement numbers.

"New IRC analysis shows that vulnerable people in developing countries hosting the highest refugee populations need an immediate cash boost of $760 million over the next six months to prevent more households from going hungry as a result of the COVID-19-triggered recession. Not only are millions struggling to meet their basic needs, but the long-term negative economic consequences for families, just beginning to make progress, are exponential. Further, we will likely continue to see the number of displaced people grow as developing economies suffer devastating consequences of a global recession, and as government donors like the U.S. are too slow to get financial resources to the frontlines of the Coronavirus."

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world's worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.