New York, 20 June 2014 – Around the world, conflict has forced a record number of people to flee their homes. More than 50 million people are currently displaced by war and violence, some 33.3 million in their own country and some 16.7 million as refugees, mostly in neighbouring countries. Last year alone, more than 10 million people were newly displaced; every 15 minutes, one family was forced into flight.
The conflict in Syria was one of the main reasons behind this massive increase. But large numbers of people were also uprooted in Mali and as a result of fresh eruptions of fighting in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
At the same time, many long-standing conflicts remained unresolved, meaning that fewer people have been able to return home. Hundreds of thousands of people from Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia and Sudan continued to live in exile, many for several years or decades, sometimes even generations.
Most of the world’s refugees – 86 per cent — live in the developing world, compared to 70 per cent 10 years ago. Most of these countries have kept their doors open to people in search of safety, and have shown a generosity that is often well beyond their means. I appeal to all Member States and our partners in civil society to do their utmost to support the nations and communities that have welcomed the forcibly displaced into their midst.
These rising numbers are a stark reminder of the international community’s inability to overcome its divisions to prevent and end conflicts. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and its partners continue to provide lifesaving assistance: water and sanitation, food and shelter, education and protection services. But a humanitarian response alone is not enough. Political solutions are urgently needed.
On World Refugee Day, 20 June, we honour the strength and resilience of the more than 50 million people around the world who have fled war, persecution and human rights abuses. Let us renew our commitment to end armed conflict, and to help the people who have been forced to flee their homes. Even one family torn apart by war is too many.