68.5 million people forcibly displaced in 2017: UN

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Geneva, June 19 (IANS) The number of people forcibly displaced due to wars, other violence and persecution worldwide reached a new high in 2017 at 68.5 million, 2.9 million more than the year before, UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday.

It was the fifth straight year of increase and was also the “biggest” in a single year, said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The displacement was led by the crisis in Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan’s war and the flight into Bangladesh from Myanmar of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees, Xinhua news agency said citing the report.

“Overwhelmingly it is developing countries that are most affected,” said UNHCR, adding that a new global deal on refugees was critical when it released an annual report.

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The report was released on the eve of World Refugee Day, which falls on June 20, to commemorate the strength of refugees and to remind governments to work together for them.

This year also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee, said UNHCR.

In its annual Global Trends report, UNHCR said 68.5 million people were displaced as of the end of 2017. Refugees who fled their countries to escape conflict and persecution accounted for 25.4 million of the total.

There were 16.2 million people displaced during 2017 itself, either for the first time or repeatedly — indicating a huge number of people on the move and equivalent to 44,500 people displaced each day.

“In short, the world had almost as many forcibly displaced people in 2017 as the population of Thailand. Across all countries, one in every 110 persons is someone displaced,” said the report.

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“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.

–IANS

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