Refugees deserve praise for resilience and courage - UNHCR chief

Refugees deserve praise for resilience and courage - UNHCR chief”

The number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons in the world by the end of 2016 totaled a record high of 65.6 million people.

The figures released ahead of World Refugee Day and a Uganda Solidality Summit on Refugees this week, showed that a full 10.3 million of the world's displaced people fled their homes previous year alone, including 3.4 million who crossed global borders to become refugees.

That number is 300,000 people higher than in 2015 and is six million people more than it was in 2014.

Syria continued to have the largest forcibly displaced population - 12 million - including 5.5 million refugees, 6.3 million internally displaced people and 185,000 asylum seekers.

On average, 20 people were driven from their homes every minute a year ago, or one every three seconds-less than the time it takes to read this sentence. By the end of 2016, 3.3 million people from the world's newest country had fled their homes, more than half to neighbouring countries.

By population, Syria still accounts for the biggest numbers of displaced people overall, with 12 million people (almost two thirds of the population) either displaced internally or having fled overseas as refugees or asylum seekers.

Last year South Africa came under the spotlight by the UNHCR for rejecting more refugee applications than any other country globally.

And almost 70 years after Palestinians first fled today's Israel, some 5.3 million Palestinians are now living as refugees - the highest level ever recorded, the UNHCR said.

Every year thousands of families forced to leave their homes due to natural calamities and wars.

Uganda received 532,725 new refugees a year ago, and was the country receiving the largest number of refugees worldwide.

Refugee resettlement also rose slightly in 2016, progress that we know has been reversed in 2017 by US President Donald Trump's executive order capping the US intake at its lowest level in 10 years.

Grandi tasked the world to assist countries like Ethiopia to shoulder the refugee burden. "From the Italian coast guard and the four survivors - Sudanese and Nigerian nationals - we understand the boat was carrying at least 133 people. For a world in conflict, what is needed is determination and courage, not fear", added Grandi.

In 2016, war-ravaged South Sudan joined the list when approximately 737,400 people fled the country after peace efforts broke down in July. This week, world leaders meet in Kampala for a Solidarity Summit on Refugees, where they are expected to pledge additional support to countries hosting large numbers of refugees.

Syria is the only country in which a majority of the population is forcibly displaced.

The number of refugees was 22.5 million.

"This huge imbalance reflects several things including the continuing lack of consensus internationally when it comes to refugee hosting and the proximity of many poor countries to regions of conflict", the United Nations agency said. Of that figure, one in every three people - about 4.9 million - were hosted by underdeveloped nations.

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