The number of displaced people around the world has increased to 68.5 million, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on Tuesday.
“The number of displaced people is alarming and not good. The number has reached 68.5 million around the world because of the intensification of conflicts, violence and wars, constantly forcing people out of their troubled countries,” Grandi told a press conference in the Libyan capital of Tripoli after a two-day visit to inspect immigrants reception centers and camps in Tripoli. The UN official pointed out that 58 percent of the displaced are from poor and developing countries, adding that the number of migrants reaching Europe during the first half of this year has decreased. “Countries that host the largest number of refugees, especially those that do not have adequate resources to shoulder the costs of hosting them, should get help and cooperation in sharing the burden under joint international efforts,” he said, adding that closing borders and ports is “not a solution to the risk of rising immigration flows.”
The Italian authorities closed its ports earlier in June, and refused to receive a ship belonging to an international organization with 600 immigrants on board, who were rescued in the Mediterranean. Spain agreed to receive these immigrants after intensive international contacts. The refusal of Italy to receive the immigrants from Libya for the first time is seen by observers as an indication of the beginning of Rome’s abandonment of its international commitments to receive immigrants, due to its inability to absorb the large number of migrants coming every year through the Mediterranean. Grandi said earlier on Tuesday that international pledges to resettle 25,000 illegal migrants from Libya are “moving slowly.” Libya is a preferred point of departure for illegal immigrants crossing the Mediterranean towards Europe. Immigration reception centers in Libya are overcrowded with tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, few of whom have a chance to resettle in a third country. Most of them are voluntarily repatriated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In 2017, IOM repatriated 20,000 immigrants voluntarily from Libya to their countries of origin.