More people have been forced to flee their homes than ever before, according to a sobering new report by the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
War and persecution have displaced a record 65.3 million people – more than the whole population of the UK.
Of this number, 40.8 million people had been displaced within their own countries, while 21.3 million people had been forced to flee their countries and become refugees, with an additional 3.2 million people awaiting a decision on their asylum claim.
UNHCR calculates that one in every 113 people globally is now either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee.
The agency blames continuing conflicts in the Middle East and African countries including South Sudan, Yemen and Burundi for driving people from their homes. UNHCR also denounces the global community for failing to help those who have been forced to flee, leaving them living in limbo.
Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan are responsible for producing half of the world’s refugees, while Turkey, Pakistan and Lebanon are the world’s top host countries for refugees.
The vast majority – 86% – of the world’s refugees are sheltered by developing countries. Half of them are children.
In contrast, the UK is home to just 0.7% of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers.
Refugee Council Policy Manager Judith Dennis said: “As the number of men, women and children forced to flee their homes reaches a record high, countries around the world are responding by closing their doors and turning their backs on refugees.
“This is a global emergency which can’t and mustn’t be contained in the world’s poorest countries, conveniently out of sight and out of mind of western nations.
“All countries must work together to ensure refugees are offered safe, legal escape routes and the chance to rebuild their lives in safety. Lives depend on our leaders getting things right.”