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U.N.: World has 'alarming' number of refugees, displaced people

June 19, 2013 at 7:28 AM   |   Comments

GENEVA, Switzerland, June 19 (UPI) -- The crisis in Syria exacerbated the plight of refugees or displaced persons, pushing displacements to an 18-year high, a U.N. refugee agency said.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights' annual Global Trends report, released Wednesday, showed that, as of the end of 2012, more than 45.2 million people were forcibly displaced compared to 42.5 million at the end of 2011.

The information is based on data from governments, non-governmental organizations who partner with the United Nations and the U.N. refugee agency itself.

"These truly are alarming numbers. They reflect individual suffering on a huge scale and they reflect the difficulties of the international community in preventing conflicts and promoting timely solutions for them," said Antonio Guterres, U.N. high commissioner for refugees and the head of UNHCR in Geneva, Switzerland.

The report said war was the dominant reason, with 55 percent of all refugees listed in the report coming from five war-affected countries: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan.

The report also charted major displacement from Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and from Sudan into South Sudan and Ethiopia, the UNHCHR said.

The report said about 7.6 million people became newly displaced in 2012, 1.1 million as refugees and 6.5 million as internally displaced people. Agency officials said the figures meant there was a new refugee or internally displaced person every 4.1 seconds.

The report said developing countries host 81 percent of the world's refugees compared to 70 percent a decade ago.

Children age 18 and younger accounted for 46 percent of all refugees.

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