Number Of Global Refugees Hits Record High

Posted June 20, 2017

In recent years, about 66 million people, or 1 percent of the world population, have fled their homes.

However, in 2016, South Sudan became "the biggest new factor" when peace efforts broke down in July resulting in some 737,400 people fleeing by the end of the year.

Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) that tracks displacement across the globe said the system protecting refugees will collapse "if we do not step up our support to countries like Uganda".

Developing countries are hosting the majority of the world's refugees, UNHCR reported. It's the second largest camp for displaced in the country, after the capital of Juba, with 120,000 people living in rows of tented squalor.

In 2016, 22.5 million refugees fled their home country - the highest number since the agency was founded in 1950. However, it is still much less dramatic leap than in 2014-2015, when the number of people forced to flee their homes, has increased by five million.

By population, the report said Syria still accounts for the biggest number of displaced people at 12 million, followed by Colombia with 7.7 million, Afghanistan with 4.7 million, Iraq with 4.2 million and South Sudan at 3.3 million.

Overall, the refugee population from the world's youngest country swelled 85 percent a year ago to reach 1.4 million by the end of 2016, the UNHCR report showed.

- The fastest growing refugee population was spurred by the crisis in South Sudan.

Syria and South Sudan were far from the only countries where people were being uprooted en masse, with Monday's report also pointing to large-scale displacement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan, just to name a few.

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He noted that the United States was the largest donor to refugee programs and that Washington had contributed $1.5 billion to UNHCR previous year.

Almost 65 million people are displaced worldwide.

This is "the highest figure since we started recording these figures", UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi told reporters ahead of the report launch.

South Sudan's civil war, which began in December 2013, has left tens of thousands dead and forced a total of 3.7 million people from their homes - almost a third of the population.

While the world's poorest nations shoulder the greatest burden of the global refugee crisis, the report found that most of the 2.8 million asylum claims made in 2016 were lodged in rich countries. The country allows refugees to work and travel freely, access Ugandan social services and gives them a plot of land to live on, and another to farm.

Donor countries should not only take in refugees but should also help to fund poorer host countries that are severely strained by helping their neighbours, the UNCHR said.

Over 5.5 million people face severe food insecurity, with an estimated 100,000 of them facing starvation, according to United Nations estimates.

The newly-formed WRC convened for the first time in Geneva, Switzerland this week to consider the solutions to the global refugee crisis.