Last year at least 65.3 million people were forcibly displaced, compared to 59.5 million just 12 months earlier, a new report by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has revealed.
This is the first time that the threshold of 60 million has been crossed.
UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report confirms that conflict and persecution caused global forced displacement to escalate sharply in 2015, reaching the highest level ever recorded and representing immense human suffering.
The total of 65.3 million comprises 3.2 million people in industrialized countries who as of end 2015 were awaiting decisions on asylum; 21.3 million refugees worldwide; and 40.8 million people who had been forced to flee their homes but were within the confines of their own countries.
“More people are being displaced by war and persecution and that’s worrying in itself, but the factors that endanger refugees are multiplying too,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “At sea, a frightening number of refugees and migrants are dying each year; on land, people fleeing war are finding their way blocked by closed borders. Politics is gravitating against asylum in some countries. The willingness of nations to work together not just for refugees but for the collective human interest is what’s being tested today, and it’s this spirit of unity that badly needs to prevail.”
More than half of the refugees worldwide are from three countries: Syria (4.9 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million) and Somalia (1.1 million).
While the world’s attention is constantly drawn to Europe’s struggles to manage the more than one million refugees and migrants who arrived via the Mediterranean last year, the report shows that the vast majority of the world’s refugees were elsewhere.
In all, 86 per cent of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate in 2015 were in low and middle income countries close to situations of conflict.
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