The United Nations has reported that the number of refugees worldwide has reached a two-decade high. Conflicts in Syria, Mali and several African countries are responsible for the growing number of displaced people.
The UN refugee agency reported on Wednesday that there are currently 45.2 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, the highest number of its kind since 1994, the year of the Rwandan genocide and civil war in the former Yugoslavia.
The total figure includes 28.8 million internally displaced people, 15.4 million refugees who have crossed borders, and 937,000 asylum seekers. This year alone, 1.1 million people fled across international borders while another 6.5 million were displaced in their home countries.
"This means one in each 4.1 seconds," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told reporters. "So each time you blink, another person is forced to flee."
Guterres said that the conflicts in Syria, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic were responsible for the high number.
"War is the main reason for this very high number of refugees and people internally displaced," he said. "Fifty-five percent of them correspond to the well-known situations of Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan and Syria."
Developing nations main hosts
Afghanistan remains the largest producer of refugees in the world, a position that it has held for 32 years. Worldwide, one in every four refugees - some 2.6 million people - comes from Afghanistan. Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan were next on the list.
Pakistan hosts the most refugees worldwide - 1.6 million - followed by Iran, Germany, Kenya and Syria. Before the Syrian civil war, many Iraqis fled there.
"Who is supporting refugees in the world? Essentially, developing countries," Guterres said.
"So when we see discussion sometimes that exists about refugees in many developed countries, I think it's good to remind public opinion in those countries that refugees are not people fleeing from poor countries into rich countries in search of a better life," he said.
slk/av (AFP, dpa)