Record 60 million, half of them children, fled violence in 2014: UN

File: A record 60 million fled violence in 2014 the UN said, that is 8.3 million more refugees and internally displaced people in the world than in 2013, the highest-ever increase in a single year, the UN refugee agency said. Photo: eNCA
A child is carried by a rescue worker (R) as migrants arrive on a boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 19, 2015.
Migrants rest after disembarking from the expedition vessel Phoenix in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta, Italy, June 7, 2015. An international rescue fleet plucked almost 5,900 migrants from rickety boats at the weekend. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello Photo: Reuters
More than 3,000 migrants abandoned by human traffickers have been rescued or washed ashore this month in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Some are Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar, while Bangladeshis seek better economic prospects.
File: A group of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants, who arrived in Indonesia by boat, sit after arriving at a new shelter in Lhoksukon, Indonesia's Aceh province. Photo: REUTERS/Roni Bintang
Migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh wait at a shelter in Matang Raya village. Rescuers saved 469 boat people from Myanmar and Bangladesh who were stranded in waters off northern Indonesia. Photo: AFP / Reza Juanda
Migrants wait to disembark from a tug boat in the Sicilian harbour of Pozzallo, southern Italy May 4, 2015. Nearly 5,800 migrants were plucked from boats off the coast of Libya and 10 bodies were recovered in less than 48 hours, Italy's coast guard said.
A child (C) is carried into bus as migrants arrive via boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 20, 2015.

LONDON - Almost 60 million people worldwide were forcibly uprooted by conflict and persecution at the end of last year, the highest ever recorded number, the U.N. refugee agency said on Thursday.

More than half the displaced from crises including Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia were children, UNHCR said in its annual Global Trends Report.

In 2014, an average of 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced every day, representing a four-fold increase in just four years, the aid agency 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," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres in a statement.

UNHCR said Syria where conflict has raged since 2011, was the world's biggest source of internally displaced people and refugees.

There were 7.6 million displaced people in Syria by the end of last year and almost 4 million Syrian refugees, mainly living in the neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

"Even amid such sharp growth in numbers, the global distribution of refugees remains heavily skewed away from wealthier nations and towards the less wealthy," UNHCR said.

UNHCR said there were 38.2 million displaced by conflict within national borders, almost five million more than a year before, with wars in Ukraine, South Sudan, Nigeria, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo swelling the figures.

Of the 19.5 million refugees living outside their home countries, 5.1 million are Palestinians. Syrians, Somalis and Afghans make up more than half the remaining 14.4 million refugees, UNHCR said.

It also noted that more than 1.6 million people sought political asylum in a foreign country last year, a jump of more than 50 percent compared to the previous year - largely due to the 270,000 Ukrainians who submitted asylum claims in Russia.

While many conflicts have erupted or reignited in the past five years, few have been conclusively resolved. Just 126,800 refugees were able to return home in 2014, the lowest number in 31 years, UNHCR said.

"It is now absolutely clear that we are not able to deliver," Guterres said. "It is time for the international community to assume its responsibilities."


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