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Displaced Ukrainians now tie for largest refugee crisis worldwide

As many Ukrainians as Venezuelans and Syrians have fled their home countries amid war and poverty, with more than 6.8 million refugees from each nation now seeking asylum around the world.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently announced that 6.8 million people had fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion earlier this year.

The 6.8 million figure is roughly 15% of Ukraine’s 44.8 million population in 2020. The U.N. estimated that nearly 90 million people worldwide were displaced as of late 2021.

Refugees International, a nonprofit group that helps migrants seeking safety and protection, said the Ukraine exodus now mirrors that of Venezuela. Millions have fled the South American country since Nicolas Maduro’s regime came to power in 2011 and the authoritarian government’s actions devastated its economy. Most migrants from Venezuela fled to other countries in South America, such as Brazil, Chile, and Colombia, while others in March 2021 began aiming for the United States.


Until 2022, the Syrian refugee crisis had been the largest in the world. A decade ago, a civil war prompted millions to flee across the region. It is only now that an increase in refugees from Venezuela and Ukraine has resulted in all three nations having seen the same number of people flee, according to the new U.N. figures.

Refugees International Senior Advocate for Latin America Rachel Schmidtke said the world has treated Venezuelans differently than Ukrainians, offering more help to the European migrants.

“Although the number of Venezuelans and Ukrainians forced from their homes is now roughly the same, the international response is not,” Schmidtke said in a statement Wednesday. “This year, donors have only funded 13 percent of the humanitarian response plan for Venezuelans — while the Ukraine response plan has received almost five times the amount of support.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection data show that fewer than 80 Venezuelans were encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border each year between 2007 and 2018. Over the past 10 months since the start of the government’s 2022 fiscal year, more than 130,000 Venezuelans have shown up at the southern border, most illegally entering the country through Del Rio, Texas, and Yuma, Arizona, after flying into Mexico.


While the U.S. has allowed Ukrainians flying into Mexico to seek asylum at the ports of entry where traffic crosses, it has not allowed the same for Venezuelans or Syrians.

This spring, the Biden administration said that it would not turn away Ukrainians at the border crossings from Mexico. The decision has upset Russian refugees, as well as many others from around the world who choose instead to cross the border illegally between ports rather than seek refuge.

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