eNews Channel Africa & Geir Moulson / AP & Huffington Post – 2015-07-14 18:46:38
Record 60 Million, Half of them Children, Fled Violence in 2014: UN
eNews Channel Africa & AP
LONDON (June 18, 2015) — Almost 60 million people worldwide were forcibly uprooted by conflict and persecution at the end of last year, the highest ever recorded number, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.
More than half the displaced from crises including Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia were children, UNHCR said in its annual Global Trends Report.
In 2014, an average of 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced every day, representing a four-fold increase in just four years, the aid agency said.
We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres in a statement.
UNHCR said Syria where conflict has raged since 2011, was the world’s biggest source of internally displaced people and refugees.
There were 7.6 million displaced people in Syria by the end of last year and almost 4 million Syrian refugees, mainly living in the neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
“Even amid such sharp growth in numbers, the global distribution of refugees remains heavily skewed away from wealthier nations and towards the less wealthy,” UNHCR said.
UNHCR said there were 38.2 million displaced by conflict within national borders, almost five million more than a year before, with wars in Ukraine, South Sudan, Nigeria, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo swelling the figures.
Of the 19.5 million refugees living outside their home countries, 5.1 million are Palestinians. Syrians, Somalis and Afghans make up more than half the remaining 14.4 million refugees, UNHCR said.
It also noted that more than 1.6 million people sought political asylum in a foreign country last year, a jump of more than 50 percent compared to the previous year — largely due to the 270,000 Ukrainians who submitted asylum claims in Russia.
While many conflicts have erupted or reignited in the past five years, few have been conclusively resolved. Just 126,800 refugees were able to return home in 2014, the lowest number in 31 years, UNHCR said.
“It is now absolutely clear that we are not able to deliver,” Guterres said. “It is time for the international community to assume its responsibilities.”
Global Refugee Numbers Reach Alarming Levels, UN Reports
Geir Moulson / AP & Huffington Post
BERLIN (June 18, 2015) — Syria overtook Afghanistan to become the world’s biggest source of refugees last year, while the number of people forced from their homes by conflicts worldwide rose to a record 59.5 million, the United Nations’ refugee agency said Thursday.
Pointing to crises in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Burundi and elsewhere, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said he doesn’t expect any improvement in 2015.
“There is a multiplication of new crises,” he said. “The Iraq-Syria crisis gained the dimension of a mega one … and at the same time the old crises have no solutions.”
The report comes at a time when Europe is grappling with how to deal with a flood of new migrants crossing the Mediterranean to escape fighting in Syria, Libya and elsewhere.
UNHCR estimated that a total of 59.5 million people worldwide had been displaced by conflict by the end of last year — including 38.2 million displaced within their own countries. That was up from 51.2 million in 2013 — the previous highest since the UN began collecting numbers in the early 1950s. Syria alone accounted for 11.6 million of those people, the biggest single figure.
The agency counted nearly 3.9 million Syrian refugees in 107 countries last year, the fourth year of the country’s civil war. That made it the leading source of refugees — pushing Afghanistan, which had held that status for more than 30 years, down to second place with 2.6 million refugees.
Syria’s northern neighbor, Turkey, became the world’s biggest refugee host with 1.59 million refugees. Pakistan, which had held that position for more than a decade, was second with 1.51 million.
Over the course of last year, only 126,800 refugees returned to their home countries — the lowest number since 1983. The countries to which most people returned were Congo, Mali and Afghanistan.
Guterres said he was alarmed by “a staggering acceleration” in the number of people being forced from their homes over recent years.
Speaking in Istanbul on Thursday, he singled out richer countries such as those in Europe and the Persian Gulf as he appealed for “all countries in the world to have their doors open.” He said they also should offer more legal avenues for people who need protection to enter.
Turkey’s willingness to open its borders “has a special meaning in a world where so many borders are closed or restricted, and where new walls are being built or announced,” Guterres said, speaking the day after Hungary said it was planning to build a fence along its border with Serbia to keep out a flow of migrants.
For many of those who have fled, home still beckons.
Maher Al Khedrawi, one of the many Syrians who have left for Turkey, said in a recent interview with The Associated Press that he looked forward to returning to his country, a sentiment he said was shared by millions of others. The 40-year-old warehouse supervisor rejects the label of “refugee.”
“Hopefully, our home will be rebuilt and stabilized again,” he said. “I’ll be among the first people who go back. There is no place like home.”
Raphael Satter and Ayse Wieting in Istanbul contributed to this report.
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