Afolabi Sotunde / Reuters / Landov

UN: Over 60 million people displaced worldwide this year

UN refugee agency says 1 in 122 people on the planet has been forced to flee home

The number of people forcibly displaced worldwide is likely to have "far surpassed" a record 60 million by the end of this year, mainly driven by the Syrian war and other protracted conflicts, the United Nations said on Friday.

The estimated figure includes 20.2 million refugees fleeing wars and persecution, the most since 1992, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a report.

Nearly 2.5 million asylum seekers have requests pending, with Germany, Russia and the United States receiving the most of the nearly 1 million new claims lodged in the first half of the year, it said.

"2015 is on track to see worldwide forced displacement exceeding 60 million for the first time — 1 in every 122 humans is today someone who has been forced to flee their homes," it said. The total at the end of 2014 was 59.5 million.

An estimated 34 million people were internally displaced as of midyear — about 2 million more than at the same time in 2014. Yemen, where civil war erupted in March, reported the most newly uprooted people, with 933,500.

"Never has there been a greater need for tolerance, compassion and solidarity with people who have lost everything," Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement.

Developing countries bordering conflict zones host the lion's share of the refugees, the report said, warning about growing "resentment" and "politicization of refugees."

The report — based on official figures as of midyear before the influx of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe peaked in October — extrapolates from trends to estimate the global total.

Syria's civil war, which began in 2011, has been the main driver of mass displacement, with more than 4.2 million Syrian refugees having fled abroad and 7.6 million uprooted in their shattered homeland as of midyear, the UNHCR said.

Together, residents of Syria and Ukraine, where a rebellion in the east erupted in April 2014, accounted for half the 839,000 people who became refugees in the first half of 2015, it said.

Violence in Afghanistan, Somalia and South Sudan sparked large refugee movements, as well as fighting in Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq.

Voluntary returns — a measure of how many refugees can safely go back home — are at their lowest levels in more than three decades, with only 84,000 people returning by midyear, compared with 107,000 at the same time a year before, the UNHCR said.

Many refugees will live in exile for years to come, it said, adding that "if you become a refugee today, your chances of going home are lower than at any time in more than 30 years."

Wire services

Syria’s conflict is the largest single source of the world's refugees

Country of origin Number of refugees
Syrian Arab Rep. 4,180,920
Afghanistan 2,632,534
Somalia 1,105,460
South Sudan 744,034
Sudan 634,612
Dem. Rep. of the Congo 535,115
Central African Rep. 469,314
Iraq 377,747
Eritrea 352,309
Ukraine 318,606
Viet Nam 313,332
Pakistan 241,973
Burundi 217,360
China 210,815
Myanmar 204,949
Mali 146,667
Sri Lanka 122,533
Nigeria 107,816
Palestinian 97,241
Colombia 95,237

Source: UNHCR

Note: Reflects total number of refugees by country of origin as of mid-2015. The table includes the top 20 countries of origin.

Related News

Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter


Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter