UN: Record 65 million people displaced worldwide

UN: Record 65 million people displaced worldwide

The UNHCR's annual count has highlighted the crisis in South Sudan as the main driver for the new high. However, the UN refugee agency reported that the number of newly displaced people is going down.

Conflict and persecution drove up the number of globally displaced persons to a record 65.5 million last year, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, reported on Monday.

The figures, which are released annually ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20, showed that more than 10 million of the world's displaced people were uprooted from their homes in the past year alone. Some 3.5 million displaced people crossed international borders for the first time to become refugees. "This equates to one person becoming displaced every three seconds - less than the time it takes to read this sentence," the UNHCR said in a statement.

Read more: Glossary of terms : asylum seekers, refugees, migration

Watch video 00:28
Now live
00:28 mins.
Web-videos | 30.03.2017

UNHCR: 'Now more than 5 million Syrian refugees'

This is "the highest figure since we started recording them," UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi told reporters, pointing out that it was larger than the population of Britain.

Syria and Afghanistan remain the biggest sources of refugees, with 5.5 million and 2.5 million nationals from the two countries displaced respectively. The crises in the Middle East have garnered the most global attention, because the masses of people who have fled the region in past years have tried to seek refuge in Europe.

Flow of refugees slowing

Infografik Where do the most refugees come from? ENG

Despite the global number of displaced persons reaching a record high, the UNHCR's count showed that the flow of refugees last year slowed for the first time in years.

In 2016, just over 10 million people fled abroad or became internally displaced within their country, compared to 12.4 million people the year before.

Read more: Syrians in Lebanon: 'They treat us like we are dirty'

Meanwhile, the total number of globally displaced also rose by some 300,000 people in 2016 from the year before, a smaller increase than in the previous years.

However, Grandi warned against viewing the trend as positive. "By any measure, this is an unacceptable number, and it speaks louder than ever to the need for solidarity and common purpose in preventing and resolving crises," he said. "Although these figures represent small shifts compared to the previous year ... the relatively stable figures mask a very unstable situation."

Related Subjects

France’s first 'humanitarian-standard' shelter

Migrants and refugees arrive in a refugee camp with humanitarian-standard shelters in Grande-Synthe, near Dunkirk, in northern France. France's first-ever refugee camp to meet international humanitarian standards opened in early March. So far, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), has built roughly 200 of the 375 planned cabins at the site to house approximately 2,500 people.

The face of hope

Tina, a 3-year-old Kurdish girl from Iraq, sits in a wooden shelter in Grande-Synthe. Most of these migrants, mainly Kurds from Iraq, had been living in terrible conditions in the camps of Grande-Synthe and Calais. Among them are 60 women and 74 children.

Laying the foundations

An indigenous Sahrawi teacher attends a class at a school in a desert refugee camp of Boujdour in Tindouf, located in southern Algeria. The five camps there are home to an estimated 165,000 Sahrawi refugees. A mural painted on a wall of the National Union of Sahrawi Women headquarters of the camp reads, "If the present is a struggle, the future is ours."

Life in a Sahrawi refugee camp

An indigenous Sahrawi man rebuilds his house, which was damaged by floods last October, in a refugee camp located in the Al Samra refugee camp. Residents use car batteries for electricity at night and depend on humanitarian aid to survive.

Fear and despair

A girl looks out from a tent at a relocation camp where stranded refugees and migrants wait to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, near the Greek village of Idomeni.

Temporary relief

Children are entertained by a performer at the Idomeni refugee camp. Doctors warn that conditions at the camp are becoming dangerous for children, with medics dealing with a range of illnesses, including hypothermia. The transit camp at the border is becoming increasingly overcrowded as thousands of refugees continue to arrive from Athens and the Greek Islands.

Hoping for a change

A Syrian man walks between tents in a refugee camp in Suruc, Turkey, which is hosting almost 2.7 Million refugees. Despite Ankara government's reassurances, Syrians are still not allowed to work in Turkey, adding to hopelessness among men of working age.

'An unwanted burden'

Children of Afghan refugees attend a class in their school at an Afghan refugee camp in Kalabat, Pakistan. U.N. officials have called on Pakistan to resolve the status of more than 2.5 million Afghan refugees living there.

Living a lost life

In northeastern Sudan, Eritrean asylum seekers rest inside a new arrival center in Wad Sharifey refugee camp during a visit by European Union ambassadors.

'Make do with what you have'

A Syrian refugee boy plays with a tire at Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan. This camp was first opened in 2012 to host Syrians fleeing the violence in the ongoing Syrian civil war that erupted the year before. Currently, the camp's population is estimated to be over 83,000.

South Sudan: world's fastest growing displacement crisis

Famine and civil war in South Sudan saw the country become the source the world's fastest-growing displacement crisis last year. The number of South Sudanese who fled across the border rose by 64 percent in 2016, from 1.4 million to 1.9 million.

Read more: Conflict forces millions of children in South Sudan to flee homes, says UN

"No refugee crisis today worries me more than South Sudan," the UNHCR's Africa chief, Valentin Tapsoba, said, adding that around two-thirds of the refugees were children.

Nearly all South Sudanese refugees have sought asylum and protection in the neighboring countries of Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Another 2 million people are reportedly displaced internally.

dm/rg (AP, dpa, AFP)

Related content