The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees told that Turkey shelters the largest number of refugees in the world but gets very little support from other countries.
Antonio Guterres was speaking on Thursday amid an ongoing crisis on the country’s southern border, with fighting between Syrian-Kurdish forces and ISIS militants forcing thousands of desperate civilians to reach safety on Turkish soil.
“We estimate more than 2 million refugees are today in Turkey. Turkey very generously opened its borders to such a large number of Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans,” Guterres said during a launch of the UN agency’s 2014 Global Trends report.
“That has a special meaning in a world where so many borders are closed or restricted and new walls are built,” Guterres said.
Turkey, which shares a 900-kilometre (560-mile) border with Syria, has 1,772,535 million Syrian refugees, according to the UN's refugee agency, with more people coming in because of ongoing bloodshed in the war-torn country.
Over the past two weeks, over 20,000 Syrian refugees fleeing clashes in the Syrian city of Tel Abyad entered Turkey’s Sanliurfa province through the Akcakale border crossing.
The report claims that Syria is “the world’s biggest producer of both internally displaced people (7.6 million) and refugees (3.88 million at the end of 2014).”
The agency said that – after Syria – Afghanistan (2.59 million) and Somalia (1.1 million) are the next biggest refugee-producing countries.
Today's UNHCR’s report also showed worldwide displacement from wars, conflict, and persecution was is at its highest level, reaching 59.5 million people at the end of 2014.
There were 51.2 million displaced people a year earlier and 37.5 million a decade ago.
The agency said the main reason for this dramatic increase is the Syrian civil war. “In 2014, an average of 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced every day,” the agency said, adding that: “Were this the population of a country, it would be the world’s 24th largest.”
This new Global Trends report disclosed that 13.9 million people became newly displaced in 2014 alone: “Alarmingly, over half the world’s refugees are children,” it highlighted.
Guterres stressed that humanitarian organisations are no longer able to cope.
“We no longer have the resources to respond to such a dramatic increase in humanitarian need in the world because a new conflict emerges every month,” he 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."
He added that his agency faced a reduced budget, making it even more difficult to address the crisis. “We are far from being able to respond to the dramatic needs of the people we care for,” he said.
In the face of those difficulties, refugees usually try to flee into countries in which they see promise for a better life.
In contrast to perceptions that refugees from African or Middle Eastern countries flee into the developed world, Guterres revealed that 86 percent of refuges are actually in the developing world.
“Discussions we sometimes witness about refugees’ moving in large numbers to richer parts of the world [are] something that does not correspond to the global reality we face.
“The bulk of those that flee are fleeing into countries that have low or middle income,” Guterres said.