Photo credit: UNHCR
Syria’s war remained the world’s leading cause of displacement and associated suffering in 2015, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported on Monday.
This is contained in UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report, which tracks forced displacement worldwide based on data from governments, partners including the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, and the organization’s own reporting released on Monday.
It said by the end of 2015 the war in Syria had driven at least 4.9 million people into exile as refugees and displaced 6.6 million internally – amounting to around half Syria’s pre-war population.
Iraq’s conflict had by year’s end displaced 4.4 million people internally and created more than a quarter of a million refugees.
Yemen’s civil war, which began in 2015, had by the end of December displaced 2.5 million people – more new displacement than any other conflict globally.
“Including the 5.2 million Palestinian refugees under the mandate of UNRWA, the almost half a million Libyans forced to flee their homes and remaining in the country, plus a number of smaller situations, the Middle East and North Africa region accounted for more displacement than any other.”
The report said sub-Saharan Africa had the largest displacement totals in 2015 after the Middle East and North Africa.
It said continuing bitter conflict in South Sudan in 2015, as well as in Central African Republic and Somalia, plus new or continuing mass displacement in or from countries including Nigeria, Burundi, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and elsewhere together produced 18.4 million refugees and internally displaced people as of year’s end.
Sub-Saharan Africa meanwhile hosted some 4.4 million refugees in all – more than any other region. Five of the world’s top-10 hosting nations were African countries, led by Ethiopia, and followed by Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad.
The report said the Asia and Pacific region accounted for almost a sixth of the world’s refugees and internally displaced people in 2015, making it the third largest region for displacement overall while rising numbers of people fleeing gang and other violence in Central America contributed to a 17 per cent rise in displacement across the wider region.
The report said in Europe, the situation in Ukraine, Europe’s proximity to Syria and Iraq, plus the arrival of more than a million refugees and migrants via the Mediterranean mostly from the world’s top ten refugee-producing countries, together dominated the region’s displacement picture in 2015.
European countries together produced some 593,000 refugees – most from Ukraine; and hosted 4.4 million – 2.5 million of these in Turkey.
The report said figures provided by the Government of Ukraine list 1.6 million Ukrainians as being displaced there. The Global Trends report lists 441,900 asylum claims in Germany, where the refugee population increased by 46 per cent from its 2014 level to 316,000.
The report said conflict and persecution caused global forced displacement to escalate sharply in 2015, reaching the highest level ever recorded and representing immense human suffering.
UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report said 65.3 million people were displaced as of the end of 2015, compared to 59.5 million just 12 months earlier. This is the first time that the threshold of 60 million has been crossed.
“Measured against Earth’s 7.349 billion population, these numbers mean that 1 in every 113 people globally is now either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee – a level of risk for which UNHCR knows no precedent. In all, there are more forcibly displaced people today than the populations of the United Kingdom, France or Italy,” it said.