Global refugee figures highest since WW2, UN says

Epigraph:

And what is the matter with you that you struggle not in the cause of Allah and of the weak — men, women and children — who say, ‘Our Lord, take us out of this town, whose people are oppressors, and make for us some friend from Thyself, and make for us from Thyself some helper?’ (Al Quran 4:76)

Refugee
The Syrian conflict has sent thousands fleeing into Lebanon and other countries

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The number of people forced to flee their homes because of war or persecution exceeded 50 million in 2013, the first time since World War Two, the UN refugee agency says.

The overall figure of 51.2 million is six million higher than the year before, a report by the UNHCR says.

Antonio Guterres, head of the UNHCR, told the BBC the rise was a “dramatic challenge” for aid organisations.

Conflicts in Syria, central Africa and South Sudan fuelled the sharp increase.

“Conflicts are multiplying, more and more,” Mr Guterres said. “And at the same time old conflicts seem never to die.”

Of particular concern are the estimated 6.3 million people who have been refugees for years, sometimes even decades.

“Start Quote

Antonio Guterres

What frustrates me is the suffering of people, to see so many innocent people dying… and the world being unable to put an end to this nonsense”

Antonio Guterres: UN High Commissioner for Refugees

People living in what the UN terms “protracted” refugee situations include more than 2.5 million Afghans. Afghanistan still accounts for the world’s largest number of refugees, and neighbouring Pakistan is host to more refugees than any other country, with an estimated 1.6 million.

Around the world, thousands of refugees from almost forgotten crises have spent the best part of their lives in camps. Along Thailand’s border with Burma, 120,000 people from Burma’s Karen minority have lived in refugee camps for more than 20 years.

Refugees should not be forcibly returned, the UN says, and should not go back unless it is safe to do so, and they have homes to return to. For many – among them the more than 300,000 mainly Somali refugees in Kenya’s Dadaab camp – that is a very distant prospect.

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