Syrians account for one-third of global refugees as displacement hits record high

Syrians account for one-third of global refugees as displacement hits record high
3 min read
19 June, 2018
Syria's seven-year conflict has pushed more than 6.3 million people out of the country, the UN said, with Turkey hosting by far the largest number of refugees.
Syria's war has pushed 6.3 million out of the country [Getty]
One person is displaced every two seconds worldwide, the UN said on Tuesday, with Syrians alone accounting for nearly one-third of the global refugee population.

War, violence and persecution has forced a record 68.5 million people out of their homes, with protracted wars in Syria, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo causing 16.2 million to be freshly displaced last year, according to a report by the UN's refugee agency.

Syria's seven-year conflict alone had, by the end of last year, pushed more than 6.3 million people out of the country. Another 6.2 million Syrians are internally displaced. 

The second largest refugee-producing country in 2017 was Afghanistan, whose refugee population grew by five percent during the year to 2.6 million people.

The increase was due mainly to births and more Afghans being granted asylum in Germany, UNHCR said.

South Sudan meanwhile saw the largest increase last year, with the number of refugees fleeing the world's youngest nation soaring from 1.4 million at the beginning of the year to 2.4 million at the end.

Refugees from Myanmar more than doubled last year to 1.2 million, as a brutal army crackdown forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to pour across the border into Bangladesh.

Tuesday's report also highlighted large-scale displacements in Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, and DR Congo among others.

And as Israel marks 70 years since its creation, there are some 5.4 million Palestinians still living as refugees, it said.

One every two seconds

By the end of 2017, the total number of displaced was nearly three million higher than the previous year and showed a 50 percent increase from the 42.7 million uprooted from their homes a decade ago.

The current figure is equivalent to the entire population of Thailand, and the number of people forcibly displaced equates to some 44,500 people being pushed out of their homes every day - or one person every two seconds, UNHCR said.

"We are at a watershed, where success in managing forced displacement globally requires a new and far more comprehensive approach so that countries and communities aren't left dealing with this alone," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

But around 70 percent of that number are people from just 10 countries.

"If there were solutions to conflicts in those 10 countries, or in some of them at least, that huge figure, instead of rising every year, could start going down," he said, calling for more political will to halt the crises driving so many from their homes.

Despite the focus on migrant numbers arriving in Europe and the United States, a full 85 percent of refugees are living in low- and middle-income countries like Lebanon, Pakistan and Uganda, Grandi said.

Turkey was hosting by far the largest number of refugees, with 3.5 million registered there by the end of 2017, most of them Syrians.