Scenes from a Disaster Movie

JB Shreve
October 31, 2023 3 mins to read
Reading Time: 2 minutes

In disaster movies, we often find scenes of chaos at national borders. Amid the pending disaster of an incoming asteroid or zombie apocalypse, the systems along national borders become overwhelmed as immigrants and refugees seek to escape the crisis. Today, it is not asteroids or zombies that the world is running from, but we are living out our own scenes from a disaster movie. Although we often politicize immigration and refugee situations, it would be more effective to recognize the state of disaster unfolding in the current geopolitical context when we look at these facts.

  • The US began tracking migrants caught crossing the southern border of the country in 1960. This year, more migrants were caught crossing the southern border of the US than any year since 1960.
  • This is the third year in a row that the record was reset. And across the world, similar stories are playing out. The poor and oppressed of the world are on the run, looking for an escape to a better life.
  • The number of displaced people worldwide has hit an all-time high over the past three years.
  • The number of refugees worldwide increased from 27.1 million in 2021 to 35.3 million at the end of 2022, the most significant yearly increase ever recorded.
  • Since 2012, the number of displaced people around the globe has more than doubled.
  • Fifty-two percent of all refugees and other people in need of international protection came from just three countries: the Syrian Arab Republic (6.5 million), Ukraine (5.7 million), and Afghanistan (5.7 million).
  • 1 in 3 of all Syrians remaining within their country were still internally displaced at the end of 2022, after more than a decade of conflict.
  • During the year, 32.6 million internal displacements due to disasters were reported, with 8.7 million people remaining displaced at the end of 2022, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. Disaster-related internal displacement accounted for more than half (54 percent) of all new displacements in 2022.
  • The Central Mediterranean route from Northern Africa towards Italy and, to a lesser degree, Malta accounts for the highest number of reported deaths and disappearances during migration, claiming the lives of more than 22,400 people between January 2014 and October 2023.

A recent statement from US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken: “It used to be that when there was a migration crisis, it tended to be one — maybe one source country at a time. Maybe it was Haiti. Maybe it was Cuba. Maybe it was Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador, the so-called Northern Triangle countries. Now it’s all of the above, plus Venezuela, plus Nicaragua, plus Ecuador.”

Read More

Crossings at the US Southern Border Are Higher Than Ever

UNHCR Global Trends

Migrant Deaths and Disappearances