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65.3 Million People Displaced Worldwide

Translated Friday 24 June 2016, by Arwen Dewey

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has announced that a new world record was broken in 2015, with 65.3 million people forced to leave their homes or countries due to war or persecution.

According to the UNHCR’s most recent annual statistical report, published Monday, this number has been growing year by year since the Syrian conflict began in 2011. The number was relatively stable between 1996 and 2011, but has gone up 9.7% since 2014. The new number, 65.3 million people, is greater than the entire population of the United Kingdom.

"We live in an unequal world," there are wars and conflicts, and "it is inevitable that people want to flee towards a safer world," commented Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, when the report was presented in Geneva. The report was published to coincide with World Refugee Day.

Download the UNHCR report

Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the NRC (The Norwegian Refugee Council, a Norwegian NGO that assisted in preparing the report), feels that the refugees "are victims of a general paralysis" among governments worldwide that "are not meeting their responsibilities."

According to Grandi, most of the crises forcing the displaced into exile are the same, year after year, with the Syrian conflict currently at the forefront. However, 2015 saw the emergence of new crises in "Burundi, South Sudan and Afghanistan." Grandi noted that Afghans are now the second largest refugee group in the world, just behind the nearly 5 million Syrian refugees.

"Even Afghans, who have been fleeing to Iran for the past several years, are now coming to Europe" to request asylum, added Grandi. Of the 65.3 million refugees worldwide, 21.3 million have fled their countries and 40.8 million, a record number, are "internally displaced," having left their homes but not their countries. The remaining 3.2 million are asylum seekers in industrialized nations. According to the UNHCR, "currently one human being out of every 113 is displaced, whether an asylum seeker, internally displaced or a refugee."

Out of these 65.3 million people, 16.1 million are under the mandate of the UNHCR, "the highest number in the past 20 years. The other 5.2 million refugees are Palestinians, served by a specialized agency of the UN.

More refugees find asylum in Africa than in Europe

In 2015 one million displaced people, or over half of all new refugees, came from Syria. By the end of 2015, 55% of the 16.1 million refugees under the mandate of the UNHCR were resettled in Europe or sub-Saharan Africa. Africa alone welcomed 4.41 million refugees (+20%) coming from five main countries: Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic. Europe came in second, with 4.39 million refugees (+43%). Besides Turkey, refugees go primarily to Germany, Russia, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Italy.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the number of refugees diminished slightly in 2015 to 3.8 million (-2%). By the end of 2015, five of the ten countries hosting the greatest number of refugees were situated in sub-Saharan Africa. Turkey is the country that takes in the most refugees worldwide (2.5 million), followed by Pakistan (1.6 million) and Lebanon (1.1 million). The situation is worsening in Yemen, where 10% of the inhabitants have left their homes.

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