Just in time for World Refugee Day (June 20th), the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) released its displacement statistic, stating 65.3 million individuals were displaced in 2015, alone. The UNHCR states this is a record-breaking statistic and exceeds any numbers recorded since the organization began its records. This sets a new postwar record too, as people gained refugee status following wars and persecutions.
Continued conflicts in the Middle East “[fuelled] a nearly 10-per cent increase in the total number of refugees and internally displaced people in 2015.”
A report released on June 14th, 2016 titled Global Trends noted that “on average, 24 people were forced to flee each minute in 2015, four times more than a decade earlier, when six people fled every 60 seconds.”
“Global displacement has roughly doubled since 1997, and risen by 50 per cent since 2011 alone – when the Syria war began.”
Approximately 11.5 million Syrians fled the country. The UNHCR reported 6.6 million relocated within the country, while 4.9 million relocated abroad. Out of the 65.3 million refugees worldwide, the most dominant refugee backgrounds are Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria. As well, more than half of the refugees are people with children.
The report also states that the 60 million mark was crossed for the first time since World War II, and even exceeds the total population of the United Kingdom, which is roughly 64.6 million.
Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, has asserted that these problems will get worse if they are not addressed. According to the Globe and Mail, Grandi was quoted as saying
“I hope that the message carried by those forcibly displaced reaches the leaderships: We need action…to stop conflicts…If you don’t solve problems, problems will come to you.”
In Europe alone, roughly 1 million people sought refuge within the continent last year, which is three to four times more than in 2014. However, according to the Globe and Mail, “more than a million people fled to Europe last year, causing a political crisis in the EU — with Greece and Italy facing the initial brunt, Germany welcoming in hundreds of thousands, and some eastern European countries erecting strict barriers to block the flow.”
Immigration concerns are also at a high in light of Thursday’s Brexit Referendum, which will decide whether Britain will be leaving the EU or not.
Grandi believes nations need to work on tackling xenophobia that has risen in light of the growing refugee population. Some European nations have erected fences to limit individuals entering their soil, and some have made legislative decisions to block refugee access to safer European states. This sets a bad example in the global landscape and raises issues on the evaluation of whether a nation is safe to host refugees.
This also serves as a warning to rich nations, as the number can certainly be expected to increase if the issues are not addressed immediately and in a cooperative manner.
Edwards, Adrian. “Global Forced Displacement Hits Record High.” UNHCR News. N.p., 20 June 2016. Web. //www.unhcr.org/news/latest/2016/6/5763b65a4/global-forced-displacement-hits-record-high.html
“Forced Displacement in 2015.” Global Trends (2016): n. pag. UNHCR, 20 June 2016. Web. https://s3.amazonaws.com/unhcrsharedmedia/2016/2016-06-20-global-trends/2016-06-14-Global-Trends-2015.pdf
Keaten, Jamey. “UN Says 65.3 Million People Displaced in 2015, a New Record.” The
Globe and Mail. N.p., 20 June 2016. Web. //www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/un-says-653-million-people-displaced-in-2015-a-new-record/article30520274/
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