According to figures published today by UNHCR, 20 people every minute were forced to flee their homes due to persecution, conflict and human rights abuses in 2016.
The number of people being forcibly displaced has risen by 300,000 in 12 months, meaning that the total number of people having to feel their homes worldwide has reached a record high of 65.6 million.
Of this number, 40.3 million people had been displaced within their own countries, while 22.5 million people had been forced to flee their countries and become refugees. An additional 2.8 million people are still awaiting decision on their claim for asylum.
Other key findings in 2016 were:
- Over half (51%) of the total refugee population were children
- Over 10 million were stateless or at risk of statelessness
- Developing regions hosted 84% of the world’s refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, with about 14.5 million people living in their countries. The least developed countries provided asylum to a growing proportion, with 28% of the global total (4.9 million refugees).
Dr Lisa Doyle, Director of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, reacted to this news by saying:
“The UNHCR’s report makes for difficult reading. With more people having to flee their homes than ever before, it is clear that there needs to be a better global response to support those who are fleeing conflict and persecution.
“Urgent action is needed. We need to see all countries working together to ensure that refugees are offered safe, legal escape routes and the chance to build new lives elsewhere. Too much of the time it is left to developing countries to step in and host refugees; we need to remember that this global emergency warrants a global response, and the responsibility to provide shelter to those in need should not just lie with some of the world’s poorest countries.”