The United Nations Refugee Agency -UNHCR- said some 65.6 Million people globally were forcibly displaced from their homes by the end of 2016, setting yet another record high with an increase of 300,000 people compared to the previous year.
In its latest Global Trends Report, the global refugee agency said the number represents 40.3 million internally displaced, 22.5 million refugees, and 2.8 million asylum-seekers. The number also includes 5.3 million Palestinian refugees and 10.3 million people who were newly displaced in 2016.
It said 51 percent of the world refugee population are children and 84 percent were being hosted by developing countries. The report notes that 55 percent of all refugees worldwide came from just three countries, Syrian, Afghanistan, and South Sudan.
Speaking to reporters in New York today, UNHCR’s New York office director Ninette Kelley said while the rate of increase is somewhat less than the previous year, the number represents a “very depressing and high level of forced displacement.” She said there was “no progress to be made in terms of conflict violence that is producing people who have had to flee” adding that over the last two decades the numbers of people who have been forcibly displaced have doubled.
Kelley said if displaced people around the world were a country, they would represent the 20th largest population in the world, bigger than the United Kingdom. She added that looking at numbers could be “kind of numbing” but each number in the report “really reflects a deep level of human loss and trouble that is experienced every minute and every second of every day; where 20 people are displaced every minute and 3 people are forcibly displaced from their home every single second.”
Kelley said South Sudan had the largest growing forced displacement problem in the world, which has also made Uganda Africa’s top host for refugees. She said Uganda was receiving some 1,500 to 2,000 South Sudanese a day as the number of refugees in the country has passed one million.
Kelley said 75,000 children, unaccompanied or separated from their families, applied for asylum 2016. She said, “I really ask you to pause and think about your own children, or your nieces, or your nephews, and then think about the journeys that refugees take across conflict areas, across deserts, climbing mountains, giving their lives to unscrupulous traffickers and smugglers; and imagine those journeys by children without their parents or without adult accompaniment; then they arrive and they are alone.” Kelley said that number was underrepresented as many countries do no kept record of whether children were accompanied or not.