The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people around the world has hit more than 60 million.
According to a latest report by UNHCR, by the end of December 2015, there were 65.3 million displaced people. Before December 2015, the agency said the figure stood at 59.5 million. UNHCR said it is the first time in the history of the organization that the number has surpassed 60 million.
Measured against the current 7.349 billion world’s population, it means 1 in every 113 people globally is now either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced person or a refugee. From the figure again, it means that each minute, 24 people around the world flee their home because of violence or persecution.
UNHCR said the latest figure tallies the number of refugees under the agency’s mandate, as well as those seeking asylum in other countries and internally displaced people. UNHCR considers internally displaced people as those who have been driven from their homes, but remain within their own country’s borders.
For the internally displaced people, the escalating humanitarian crisis in Yemen, ongoing Boko Haram violence in northern Nigeria, and persistent conflict in Colombia have contributed to the rising number.
Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia were named as the countries that have accounted for more than half of the refugees under the mandate of UNHCR. Especially for Syria, the ongoing civil war has made the situation worse for UNHCR.
UNCHR revealed that most of the refugees, about 86% are being currently hosted in developing countries, which is not good, because facilities in those countries are limited. Lebanon hosts 183 refugees for every 1,000 inhabitants, the highest ratio in the world; while Turkey hosts the highest total number of refugees, which is over 2.5 million people, according to UNHCR.
It was also revealed that more than half of the refugees are children. A little more than 200,000 refugees were able to return their home in 2015.
In a press release, UNHCR stated that the number represents immense human suffering. UNHCR boss, Filippo Grandi said: “More people are being displaced by war and persecution and that’s worrying in itself, but the factors that endanger refugees are multiplying too. 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.”
In 2015, Europe struggled to manage the number of refugees who landed on the continent. It became the news headlines in the media. Over one million people crossed the Mediterranean into Europe, the majority of them from Syria. Germany showed compassion and took the majority of these desperate people. Many of the countries in the continent were confused, with some declaring that they are not ready to accept refugees. Some right wing politicians seized on the crisis, stirring controversy in order to champion their selfish political ambitions.
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