The BBC World News service (20 June 2016) reports startling new figures that have been released by the United Nations Commission for Refugees. In its annual report to mark World Refugee Day, the UN revealed that the number of refugees worldwide had, for the first time in history, exceeded 60 million. Over half of the refugees are from three countries: Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria.
By the end of 2015 the number had reached 65.3 million, more than the entire population of the United Kingdom. This equates to one person in every 113 worldwide, who is forcibly displaced due to conflict, persecution and failure to find political solutions. The report said that 24 human beings, per minutes, were forced to flee conflict and persecution in 2015. Half of all refugees are children under 18.
Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees expressed the hope that the new figures would galvanize political leadership worldwide. “We need action, political action, to stop conflicts. The message that they (refugees) have carried is: ‘If you don’t solve problems, problems will come to you.”
The UN Commissioner called specifically on European leaders to do more to end the conflicts that have forced people from their homelands. “There is no plan B for Europe in the long run. Europe will continue to receive people seeking asylum. Their numbers may vary … but it is inevitable.”
Mr Grandi also stated that “those who stir up public opinion against refugees and migrants, have a responsibility in creating a climate of xenophobia that is very worrying in today’s Europe.”
The full BBC World News Report can be viewed here: