19 June 2012
The United Nations refugee agency says 2011 was a record year for forced displacement, with more people fleeing their homes than at any time since the year 2000. In its latest report on global trends in asylum, the agency says it is concerned by the increasingly large numbers of displaced people, and by the fact that many who flee remain stuck in camps for many years.
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Ivory Coast, Libya, Somalia, Sudan – in 2011 4.3 million people were forced to flee their homes; the highest number, the UN refugee agency says, in over a decade. Of them 800,000 fled across borders, seeking protection in neighbouring countries. By the end of the year the total number of refugees and internally displaced worldwide stood at forty-two and a half million people – without their homes, possessions or livelihoods, often dependant on support from communities in developing countries, with themselves few resources.
The UN refugee agency says this latest report on global displacement shows worrying trends – forced displacement is affecting increased numbers of people, and among the displaced, more and more are having to wait years, even decades, to return home. Overall, Afghanistan accounts for the largest number of refugees, followed by Iraq, Somalia and Sudan. The UN refugee agency says it is grateful that, by and large, the international system of protection is being respected; countries are keeping their borders open to those in need.
Nevertheless, the UN knows that as the global economic crisis continues, help for refugees is unlikely to be a top political priority – and the refugee agency says testing times lie ahead.
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a person who escapes their home town or country for their own safety
lines which separate countries
safety from harm
- internally displaced
people who have fled their home but remain in their own country
- global displacement
- testing times
a difficult period