Record number of 60 million people displaced worldwide

Number of people displaced worldwide hits record high of 60 million, half of whom are children

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The highest recorded number of refugees worldwide was recorded by the end of last year as 60 million people, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.

Refugees fleeing from conflict, famine, and civil war were mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. The UNHCR said in its annual Global Trends Report that half of those displaced are children.

In 2014, an average of 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced every day, representing a four-fold increase in just four years, the aid agency said.

"We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres in a statement.

Syria, which is undergoing a civil war that erupted in 2011, became the world's biggest source of internally displaced people and refugees according to the UNHCR.

"Even amid such sharp growth in numbers, the global distribution of refugees remains heavily skewed away from wealthier nations and towards the less wealthy," the UNHCR said. There are almost 7.6 million people displaced internally in Syria and almost 4 million Syrian refugees outside the country, mainly living in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

The UNHCR said that 38.2 million people were displaced by conflicts within national borders in 2014 - almost five million higher than a year before - with wars in Ukraine, South Sudan, Nigeria, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo swelling the figures.

Of the 19.5 million refugees who have fled their home countries, 5.1 million are Palestinians. Syrians, Somalis and Afghans make up more than half the remaining 14.4 million refugees, the UNHCR said.

More than 1.6 million people sought political asylum in a foreign country last year, a jump of more than 50 percent compared to the previous year - largely due to the 270,000 Ukrainians who submitted asylum claims in Russia.

The past five years have seen the world plunge into a violent streak of civil wars and uprisings, few of which have been conclusively resolved. Just 126,800 refugees were able to return home in 2014, the lowest number in 31 years, the UNHCR said.

"It is now absolutely clear that we are not able to deliver," Guterres said. "It is time for the international community to assume its responsibilities."

TRTWorld and agencies