Millions worldwide have no holiday cheer as refugee population grows
Number of countries with citizens fleeing violence to reach all-time high this year
If you have a roof over your head and food in your belly this holiday season, you're doing a whole lot better than many people in the world today. The United Nations reports that the number of citizens fleeing their homeland on account of political instability and war will reach an all-time high this year - as the international refugee population continues to grow unabated.
The United Nations reports that the number of citizens fleeing their homeland on account of political instability and war will reach an all-time high this year - as the international refugee population continues to grow unabated.
Regardless, 2013 has been one of the worst periods in decades for people fleeing violence. The fighting in Syria over the ongoing civil war represents the largest number of refugees, followed by Afghanistan.
More than 5.9 million people became newly uprooted within their countries or fled abroad in the first six months of the year, compared with 7.6 million for all of 2012.
"It is hard to see such numbers and not ask why so many people are today becoming refugees or internally displaced," UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres says.
"Humanitarian organizations deliver life-saving assistance, but we can't prevent or stop wars - that requires political effort and political will and this is where much more concerted international focus needs to be placed."
Syria currently accounts for eight out of 10 new refugees, i.e. those who cross a border to seek safety. Tens of thousands of people also fled violence in Sudan, Central African Republic, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.
According to a report released late last week, the number of refugees fleeing their countries in 2013 may turn out to be the highest since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
The UNHCR normally publishes global refugee and internal displacement trends annually. It took the unprecedented step of publishing a mid-year report because of concern at rapidly escalating displacement crises in Syria and elsewhere.
Afghans remain the largest refugee population by 2.6 million), but are expected to be overtaken by Syrians. Afghanistan's neighbors Pakistan and Iran are the largest refugee-hosting countries, followed by Jordan and Lebanon, which have borne the brunt of the refugee crisis generated by Syria's civil war.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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