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Worldwide Displacement Hits Record High

Worldwide Displacement Hits Record High
A new report released by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shows that the number of people displaced around the world has reached record highs.

The annual report, Global Trends: World at War, was released June 18. It details the staggering increase in refugees, internally displaced people, and people awaiting outcomes for asylum claims.

At the end of last year, 59.5 million people were displaced around the world, an increase of more than 16 percent from the end of 2013. The increase is the biggest one-year jump ever recorded. Every day, 42,500 people had to leave their homes.

As a result, one out of every 122 people is now displaced. If this were a country, it would be the 24th most populous in the entire world.

Out of the 59.5 million people displaced worldwide, 19.5 million are refugees, 38.2 million live displaced within their own country, and 1.8 million are awaiting decisions on asylum applications. All three numbers are more than 14 percent higher than 2013 figures.

In addition, UNHCR saw four times the amount of newly displaced people last year as compared to 2013, with 13.9 million forcibly displaced.

The three main causes of the increase in displacement are war, conflict and persecution. In the last five years, the world has seen 15 conflicts either erupt or resume, eight in Africa and three in both the Middle East and Asia.

Specifically, the Syrian Civil War puts the country at the top of the list when it comes to the number of people internally displaced and refugees, with 7.6 million and 3.88 million, respectively.

Afghanistan and Somalia follow in terms of biggest sources of refugees.

Around the world, displacement in Europe increased 51 percent, due in large part to the conflict in Ukraine. The number of those displaced in the Middle East and North Africa went up 19 percent, in addition to 17 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. Asia saw an increase of 31 percent, and the Americas saw an increase of 12 percent.

Turkey is the top host of refugees, home to a little more than 1.5 million. Pakistan follows, with Lebanon, Iran and Ethiopia rounding out the top five.

Statistics show that regions that are developing, host 86 percent of the world’s refugees, with over 5.9 million living in countries with a per capita GDP of less than $5,000.

Furthermore, children constitute more than half of the world’s refugees, and last year, almost 35,000 asylum applications were submitted by children who were unaccompanied or separated from their families.

World Refugee Day, which takes place every year on June 20, aims to show the world who the refugees are and why they need help. One of its primary goals is to demonstrate how refugees are ordinary people who found themselves in unexpected circumstances.

The hope is that through awareness, governments and people will do more to improve the conditions of those who have to leave their homes and help create opportunities for a better life.

– Matt Wotus

Sources: UNAIDS, UNHCR 1, UNHCR 2,
Photo: UNHCR