A report released today by the UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, says that more people are refugees or internally displaced than at any other time since 1994, with the crisis in Syria having emerged as a major new factor in global displacement.
UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report covers displacement that occurred during 2012 based on data from governments, NGO partners, and the UNHCR itself. The report shows that as of the end of 2012, more than 45.2 million people were in situations of displacement compared to 42.5 million at the end of 2011. This includes 15.4 million refugees, 937,000 asylum seekers, and 28.8 million people forced to flee within the borders of their own countries.
War remains the dominant cause of diplacement. A full 55 per cent of all refugees listed in the UNHCR’s report come from just five war-affected countries, namely Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan. The report also charts major new displacements from Mali, in Democratic Republic of the Congo, and from Sudan into South Sudan and Ethiopia.
“These truly are alarming numbers. They reflect individual suffering on a huge scale and they reflect the difficulties of the international community in preventing conflicts and promoting timely solutions for them,” said António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees and head of the UNHCR.