A new UN report captures the unprecedented scale of the global refugee crisis:
The number of people displaced from their homes due to conflict and persecution last year exceeded 60 million for the first time in United Nations history, a tally greater than the population of the United Kingdom, or of Canada, Australia and New Zealand combined, says a new report released on World Refugee Day today.
The Global Trends 2015 compiled by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) notes that 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of 2015, an increase of more than 5 million from 59.5 million a year earlier.
The tally comprises 21.3 million refugees, 3.2 million asylum seekers, and 40.8 million people internally displaced within their own countries.
Measured against the world’s population of 7.4 billion people, one in every 113 people globally is now either a refugee, an asylum-seeker or internally displaced – putting them at a level of risk for which UNHCR knows no precedent.
On average, 24 people were forced to flee each minute in 2015, four times more than a decade earlier, when six people fled every 60 seconds.
And 51% of them are children.
There’s a lot of bad stuff going on; this is, as we’ve been covering for the last few years, a truly global refugee crisis. Even this week, the plight of Rohingya refugees from Burma is back in the news, while displacement within Africa continues to be a problem.
However, the UN report makes it uncomfortably clear that the worst situations on the planet are those, starting with Syria, of which President Obama has ostentatiously, even proudly, washed his hands:
Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia produce half the world’s refugees, at 4.9 million, 2.7 million and 1.1 million, respectively.
Colombia had the largest numbers of internally displaced people (IDPs), at 6.9 million, followed by Syria’s 6.6 million and Iraq’s 4.4 million.
The UN’s spokesperson, reviewing the severity of the crisis, points towards the UNHRC’s #WithRefugees social media campaign and a High-Level Meeting of world leaders to discuss the global crisis on the sidelines of this September’s UNGA as glimmers of hope. But we all know what would do most to help: for the U.S. to get off the sidelines, starting but by no means ending with the situation in Syria. Sadly, that’s not likely to happen before January 20, 2017.