Violence pushes world's refugees to record high of 68.5 million

Clay Curtis
June 22, 2018

New displacement is also growing, with 16.2 million people displaced during 2017 itself, either for the first time or repeatedly.

"We are at a watershed, where success in managing forced displacement globally requires a new and far more comprehensive approach so that countries and communities aren't left dealing with this alone", said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Canada was the world's ninth-largest recipient of asylum claims last year with 47,800 claims registered in the year, more than double the 23,600 claims in the previous year, according to the latest annual report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Nai Jit Lam is calling on the global community to step in and provide safety to the growing number of displaced people around the world.

The number of asylum seekers has declined compared to 2016: At end of last year, 1.9 million of worldwide protection petitions were registered in 162 countries compared to 2.2 million previous year.

"International responsibility-sharing for displaced people has utterly collapsed", said Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, in a statement on Tuesday.

Funding received by the agency to help refugees from the Syrian conflict fell sharply this year from 2017, with only 50 per cent of the funds it requested of donors being offered.

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Speaking in Ireland , he said: "The trade that we believe in is built on rules, trust and reliable partnership". The EU has also filed a case contesting the legality of the US tariffs with the World Trade Organization.

The report also said almost 174,000 refugee children, including those seeking asylum, were unaccompanied and separated from their families.

Five countries- Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia, which together account for less than two per cent of the world population, accounts for 68 per cent of the global refugee population. The UNHCR found that the majority of displaced persons remained closer to home, with four out of five refugees remaining in countries next door to their own.

The number of asylum-seekers awaiting the outcome of their applications for refugee status had risen by about 300,000, to 3.1 million, by the end of December 2017. They are resigned to sending them away in the hope of better opportunity elsewhere - even if that means families are torn apart, refugee experts said. Turkey topped the list of countries that hosted the most refugees a year ago, with 3.5 million. At the end of 2017, 3.5 million refugees, mostly Syrians, were living in the country.

But UNHCR, Mr. Grandi's agency, said the figures debunked the flawed perception among some that a refugee crisis has affected more developed countries in the "Global North". The report noted that 2017 marked the second straight year that the number of internally displaced people decreased.

"I have written yesterday to the presidency of the European Union offering UNHCR's expertise in finding essential but practical new solutions to address these flows of people", said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "In particular, the refugee population in Germany increased by 45 per cent, with substantive decisions made on over half a million cases", the report highlighted.

Some poorer countries like Bangladesh had gone beyond their global obligations by accepting huge numbers of refugees.

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