Record Number of Refugees Fleeing
their Homelands, U.N. says
More people became refugees last year than at any
time of the beginning of this century
The United Nations has released a disheartening report about the
growing number of global refugees. The 2011 Global Trends Report,
tracking the extent of refugee and internal displacement worldwide
has found that more global citizens became refugees last year than
at any time since the beginning of this century.
When one factors in the popular unrests
against corrupt dictatorships in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria,
the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring was matched, and exceeded the
crisis of drought and famine in the Horn of Africa that affected
more than 12 million people.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online):
According to the U.N., global conflicts in 2011 forced a record
800,000 people to flee their homelands. According to the U.N.
High Commissioner for Refugees, there were 42.5 million
refugees, internally displaced persons and asylum seekers, at
the end of 2011. The report examined the extent of forced
displacements from a string of humanitarian and political crises
that began in late 2010 in Ivory Coast.
When one factors in the popular unrests against corrupt
dictatorships in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria, the turmoil
caused by the Arab Spring was matched, and exceeded the crisis
of drought and famine in the Horn of Africa that affected more
than 12 million people.
According to the report:
- 42.5 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide
- 4.3 million people were newly displaced in 2011
- 46 percent of refugees are under 18 years old
- Afghanistan is the leading country of origin for refugees
- Pakistan is host to the most refugees in the world
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres says that
theses displaced people uprooted by catastrophic events
represent human suffering on an epic scale. Sadly, 2012 does not
look more auspicious than 2011.
"I do not remember in my tenure as High Commissioner to have at
the same time, three acute, massive refugee crises as we are
having today in Syria, in Sudan-South Sudan, and in Mali.
"We already have more than 80,000 refugees coming out of Syria,
190,000 refugees coming out of Sudan into the South and into
Ethiopia, and 160,000 refugees coming out of Mali into
Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso-not to mention a small number
into Algeria," he said.
Worrying trends the report found during the last 10 years is
that forced displacement is affecting larger numbers of people
globally. Even ore distressing is the fact that a person who
becomes a refugee is likely to remain one for many years.
The report notes almost three quarters of the 10.4 million
refugees under UNHCR's mandate have been in protracted exile for
at least five years.
Contrary to widely held perceptions in industrialized countries,
Guterres says that 80 percent of the world's refugees are being
hosted in developing countries.
The presence of hundreds of thousands of refugees in these poor
countries has an enormous impact on these nations' economies and
in their societies.
"I do not like to talk about the word burden because this is
something that countries are doing in a brotherly way, opening
their borders, opening the doors of their cities, sometimes
opening their hearts to support people in need. But, we have to
recognize that for countries that face very difficult economic
situations with low levels of development, this presence
represents a huge impact. And, that impact requires a lot of
international solidarity-not only in economic development
cooperation, but also in offering more resettlement
opportunities in the developed world," he said.