Refugee numbers hit historic high: UN

photo by Ilias Bartolini, London, England.

OTTAWA – The United Nations’ refugee agency says one in every 113 people around the world is either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee.

The agency says by the end of last year, 65.3 million people had been forcibly displaced from their homes.

Of that about 12.4 million were newly displaced, due to ongoing persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations that continue to plague countries around the world.

The sobering statistics were contained in the agency’s annual global trends report, released Monday to mark World Refugee Day.

Only a fraction of those displaced find new permanent homes around the world, largely thanks to the UN’s refugee resettlement programs.

Canada has consistently been among the lead nations in resettling refugees, with the Liberals’ Syrian program helping raise those numbers in 2015.

But one of the factors the report also examines is how well refugees settled into their new homes — and data recorded by the UN suggested that more refugees became citizens of Canada than became citizens of any other country last year, continuing a trend from 2014, the agency said.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who has widely praised Canada’s program, said the rising number of displaced people isn’t the only concern.

“More people are being displaced by war and persecution and that’s worrying in itself, but the factors that endanger refugees are multiplying too,” he said in a press release.

“At sea, a frightening number of refugees and migrants are dying each year; on land, people fleeing war are finding their way blocked by closed borders. Politics is gravitating against asylum in some countries.

“The willingness of nations to work together not just for refugees but for the collective human interest is what’s being tested today, and it’s this spirit of unity that badly needs to prevail.”

This fall, Canada will co-chair a special summit on the refugee crisis in New York.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here