One in every 113 people on the planet is now a refugee, an asylum seeker or has been forced from their home, according to a new report from the United Nations’ refugee agency.
According to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 63.5 million people were displaced in 2015, 5.8 million more than in 2014.
“Since 2011, when UNHCR announced a new record of 42.5 million forcibly displaced people globally, these numbers have risen sharply each year, from 45.2 million in 2012 to 51.2 million in 2013 and 59.5 million in 2014,” the agency said. “This is an increase of more than 50 percent in five years.”
An additional 12.4 million people were forced to leave their homes in 2015, according to UNHCR.
While most of those — 8.6 million — had to move within the borders of their own country, 1.8 million were recognized as refugees in another country, with the rest still seeking asylum, the agency said.
“The dangers to which those who are forcibly displaced are exposed are even greater than in the past,” High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told reporters in Geneva. “The risks are rising, and they’re rising in many places, not just here in Europe.”
“Refugees, displaced people very often go into environments that are very hostile: the rise of xenophobia is unfortunately becoming a very defining feature of the environment in which we work. And then barriers are rising everywhere,” Grandi said.
“I’m talking about legislative barriers that are coming up, including in countries in the industrialized world that have been for a long time bastions of principles — principles in defending the fundamental rights linked to asylum.”
While there has been much focus on Europe, 86 percent of refugees and asylum seekers are housed in developing nations, the UN agency said.
Turkey hosted the largest number of refugees worldwide, 2.5 million. The country that received the highest share of refugees in relation to its population was Lebanon, with 183 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants.
Children under 18 accounted for more than half of all refugees, according to the report.
War in Syria
The increase was mainly attributable to the conflict in Syria, “which accounted for more than half of new refugees in 2015,” the UNHCR said. More than 1 million new Syrian refugees were registered in 2015, bringing the total to 5 million.
The EU countries that hosted the most refugees were Germany (316,100), France (273,100), Sweden (169,500), the United Kingdom (123,100), and Italy (118,000), the UNHCR reported.