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Updated On: Sunday, 22 September 2019

Alarming New Data Suggest 1 in 122 Persons are Displaced by Conflict

Content by: South-South News

18 June 2015, New York, USA | Brendan Pastor – New figures from the United Nations refugee agency show worrying numbers for displaced persons.

According to UNHCR, nearly 60 million people are classified as refugees, internally displaced, or asylum seekers fleeing conflicts in their place of origin. This is the highest figure since the organization began collecting records 65 years ago. Taken together, it means that 1 out of every 122 persons is displaced by violence.

In Geneva, the High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, announced the findings during a press conference.

"Unfortunately today, I have to announce that the number of people displaced by conflict at the end of 2014 is 59.5 million," Guterres said. "And that means an increase of 16 percent in relation to last year, and an increase of 60 percent in relation to 10 years ago."

For perspective, UNHCR says that if this was the population of a country, it would be the 24th most populous – just between Italy and South Africa.

An unprecedented surge of conflicts, wars and persecutions has caused this record number of people to flee their homes in search of safety. And while the majority of those come from the Middle East – particularly Syria – the global pattern shows that conflict exists on nearly every continent.

In the past five years alone, at least fifteen conflicts have erupted or reignited, from Nigeria, Burundi, and South Sudan in Africa, to Syria, Iraq and Palestine in the Middle East, and Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal in Asia. The Ukraine civil war represents the first time that Europe is experiencing a major IDP crisis.

Currently, the majority of humanitarian operations for refugees are undertaken by a mixture of government, UN agency and civil society organizations. However an extreme lack of funding for these operations are hindering the international community's ability to support the rapidly rising number of refugees.

"Large regions of the world are today in a mess. And for those political leaders or those supporting them that believe that humanitarians will have the capacity to clean up the mess, I think it's time to say clearly that it is no longer the case," Guterres warned. "We don't have the capacities and essentially we don't have the resources to support all the victims of conflicts around the world and to provide them with the very minimal level of protection and assistance."

It is apparent that no region of the world is immune from the sudden influx of persons seeking shelter. Mediterranean states have received the bulk of attention as the number of seaborne migrants reaching the shores of Italy, Greece and Spain is now reaching epidemic levels. Even across the Atlantic, the United States recently experienced a sudden rise in migrants from Central American nations subject to violence.

Against that backdrop, the alarming figures detailing the global refugee situation is ultimately compounded by the agency's grim confirmation that over half of the world's total refugees are children.

UNHCR also warns that this rise in refugee and asylum seeking is coupled with a growth of human trafficking and smugglers as they seek passage to safety.

"It is time for the international community to assume its responsibilities, not only to the people in distress, but its responsibilities to be able to prevent or bring solutions to the conflicts that are causing so much suffering," Guterres said.

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