The UNHCR has warned of dangerous new era in worldwide displacement as report shows almost 60 million people were forced to flee their homes.
A UNHCR report, released on Saturday and made available to the GNA by Ms Patience Folley, Assistant Public Information Officer, shows that worldwide displacement from wars, conflict, and persecution is at the highest levels recorded, and accelerating fast.
UNHCR’s new annual Global Trends report shows a sharp escalation in the number of people forced to flee their homes, with 59.5 million people displaced at the end of 2014 compared to 51.2 million a year earlier and 37.5 million a decade ago.
According to the report, the increase since 2013 was the highest ever seen in a single year.
It said the main acceleration had been since early 2011 when war erupted in Syria, propelling it into becoming the world’s single largest driver of displacement.
It observed that 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 report said worldwide, one in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum.
“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 António Guterres.
“It is terrifying that on the one hand there is more and more impunity for those starting conflicts, and on the other there is seeming utter inability of the international community to work together to stop wars and build and preserve peace,” he added.
The UNHCR’s report shows that in region after region, the number of refugees and internally displaced people is on the rise.
It said in the past five years, at least 15 conflicts had erupted or reignited: Eight in Africa – Côte d’Ivoire, Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, northeastern Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and this year in Burundi; three in the Middle East – Syria, Iraq, and Yemen; one in Europe – Ukraine and three in Asia – Kyrgyzstan, and in several areas of Myanmar and Pakistan.
It indicated that few of these crises have been resolved and most still generate new displacement.
It said in 2014 just 126,800 refugees were able to return to their home countries, the lowest number in 31 years.
Meanwhile, decades-old instability and conflict in Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere means that millions of people from these places remain either on the move or – and increasingly commonly – stranded for years on the peripheries of society and amid the crippling uncertainty of being long-term internally displaced or refugees.
The report observed that among recent and highly visible consequences of the world’s conflicts and the terrible suffering they cause, has been dramatic growth in numbers of refugees seeking safety by undertaking dangerous sea journeys, including the Mediterranean, in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, and in Southeast Asia. GNA