June 19 (UPI) -- Nearly 71 million people have been displaced by war, violence and persecution worldwide last year, the largest number recorded in the United Nation's history, the international organization's refugee agency said Wednesday.
The annual "Global Trends" report, released by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugee, said that 70.8 million people have been displaced the world over in 2018, an increase of 2.3 million from the year previous and double the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and displaced people from 20 years ago.
The report says the figures are "conservative" as they do not reflect those who have fled Venezuela following the political instability the country has experienced this year.
Some 4 million Venezuelans have fled their country but only half a million have formally applied for asylum, the report said.
"What we are seeing in these figures is further confirmation of a longer-term rising trend in the number of people needing safety from war, conflict and persecution," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugee Filippo Grandi said in a statement. "While language around refugees and migrants is often divisive, we are also witnessing an outpouring of generosity and solidarity, especially by communities who are themselves hosting large numbers of refugees."
The report breaks down the number of displaced people into three categories: refugees, of which there are 25.9 million; asylum seekers, who account for 3.5 million; and internally displaced people, who account for more than half of the 70 million displaced people with 41.3 million.
The rate people are being displaced is greater than the rate at which solutions are being found, said the report, adding that for refugees, less than 7 percent of people awaiting resettlement were awarded some form of asylum.
"With every refugee situation, wherever it is, however long it has been going on for, there has to be an enduring emphasis on solutions and removing obstacles to people being able to return home," Grandi said. "This is complex work in which U.N. HCR is constantly engaged but which also requires all countries to come together for a common good. It is one of the great challenges of our times."
The report, released on the eve of World Refugee Day on Thursday, said that every second refugee was a child traveling alone without a family and four of every five refugee lives in displacement for at least five years.
"Another year, another awful record broken," Oxfam's head of Humanitarian campaigns Ruth Tanner said in a statement. "Behind these numbers are people like you and me making dangerous journeys they never wanted to make because of threats to their safety and most basic rights."