Ben Simon, Yahoo News, June 20, 2016
The number of refugees and others fleeing their homes worldwide has hit a new record, spiking to 65.3 million people by the end of 2015, the United Nations said Monday.
Europe’s high-profile migrant crisis, its worst since World War II, is just one part of a growing tide of human misery led by Palestinians, Syrians and Afghans.
Globally, close to one percent of humanity has been forced to flee.
“This is the first time that the threshold of 60 million has been crossed,” the UN refugee agency said.
The figures, released on World Refugee Day, underscore twin pressures fuelling an unprecedented global displacement crisis.
The number of people displaced globally rose by 5.8 million through 2015, according to the UN figures.
Counting Earth’s population at 7.349 billion, the UN said that one out of every 113 people on the planet was now either internally displaced or a refugee.
“Every 24 minutes a person is forced to choose exile from his home,” Grandi said in Kabul.
Displacement figures have been rising since the mid-1990s, but the rate of increase has jumped since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011.
Of the planet’s 65.3 million displaced, 40.8 million remain within their own country, 21.3 million have fled across borders and are now refugees, while the remainder are asylum seekers.
Palestinians are the largest group of refugees at more than five million, including those who fled at the creation of Israel in 1948 and their descendants.
Syria is next on the list, with 4.9 million refugees, followed by Afghanistan (2.7 million) and Somalia (1.1 million).
Beyond the refugee hotspots in the Middle East and Africa, UNHCR said there were also troubling signs in Central America, where growing numbers of people fleeing gang violence led to a 17-percent rise in those leaving their homes through 2015.