The number of forcibly displaced people in the world continues to rise. There are now more than 45 million refugees and internally displaced people – the highest level in nearly 20 years. Last year alone, someone was forced to abandon their home every four seconds.
War remains the dominant cause, with the crisis in Syria a leading instance of major displacement. More than half of all refugees listed in a new report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees come from just five war-affected countries: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan. Major new displacements have also been occurring in Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Figures give only a glimpse of this enormous human tragedy. Every day, conflict tears apart the lives of thousands of families. They may be forced to leave loved ones behind or become separated in the chaos of war. Children suffer the most. Nearly half of all refugees are below age 18, and a growing number are fleeing on their own.
Forced displacement also has a significant economic, social and, at times, political impact on the communities that provide shelter. There is a growing and deep imbalance in the burden of hosting refugees, with poor countries taking in the vast majority of the world’s uprooted people. Developing countries host 81 per cent of the world’s refugees, compared to 70 per cent a decade ago.
Finding durable solutions for the displaced will require more solidarity and burden-sharing by the international community. On World Refugee Day, I call on the international community to intensify efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts, and to help achieve peace and security so that families can be reunited and refugees can return home.