Monday, 10 December, 2018

Take greater responsibility for your people, United Nations refugee chief to South Sudan

Migrants hold placards during a rally against living conditions at the refugee camps in Greece Migrants hold placards during a rally against living conditions at the refugee camps in Greece
Christy Curtis | 25 June, 2017, 02:38

Turkey, for the third consecutive year, has hosted the largest number of Syrian refugees worldwide, as the number of people displaced from their homes across the world due to war and persecution climbed slightly to a record 65.6 million last year, according to a new United Nations report released yesterday.

The agency's Global Trend Report was published just ahead of World Refugee Day on Tuesday, illustrating several facts and figures about the current refugee crisis.

The worldwide number of asylum seekers - which the United Nations refugee agency defines as "people who are seeking global protection but whose refugee status is yet to be determined" - reached 2.8 million at the end of a year ago.

Among the refugees, asylum seekers - people who have fled their country and are seeking worldwide protection - totaled 2.8 million by the end of 2016. Of the 65.6 million people that were found displaced a year ago, the report notes that 10.3 million were newly displaced, which equates to one person becoming uprooted every three seconds.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said more than half of refugees globally come from three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan, which have been war-torn for years. The UN agency said it found a record 65.6 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2016. Syria's conflict remains the world's biggest producer of refugees (5.5 million), however in 2016 the biggest new factor was South Sudan where the disastrous breakdown of peace efforts in July of that year contributed to the outflow of 739,900 people by year's end (1.87 million today). The total number of displaced people worldwide - 65.6 million - has roughly doubled since 1997, and risen by 50 percent since 2011 alone, when the war in Syria began.

Monday's report also pointed out that despite the huge focus on Europe's migrant crisis, it was poor countries that hosted most of the world's refugees.

This file photo taken on June 4, 2017 shows a girl resting with other Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) on a mat in the Kasai Province in Kikwit.

The UN refugee agency reported that "very high" volumes of conflict and persecution is forcing people to flee their homes.

According to the UNHCR, 20 people were forced to flee their homes every minute in 2016. The report attributed that slight reduction in part to people who had returned to their homes, offsetting the number of new people who had fled. Ongoing crises in sub-Saharan Africa have resulted in large and sudden population displacements, which results in neighboring countries opening their borders to those fleeing conflict. "We certainly have counted at least half a million more in the first semester of this year in terms of refugees".

Germany, the USA, Italy and Turkey received the highest number of asylum applications in 2016, with more than 2 million claims lodged.

Since violence erupted in South Sudan in December 2013, more than 1.8 million people, including more than one million children have arrived in neighbouring countries.

The top three host countries at the end of 2016 were Turkey, Lebanon, and Pakistan (although Uganda is likely to enter the top three this year as it continues to absorb the majority of South Sudanese refugees).

"Now, the authorities have a greater responsibility because they are in charge of this country and it is under their leadership that we must seek security", Grandi said. Some 37 countries together accepted 189,300 refugees for resettlement.

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