The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says that by the end of last year 65.3 million people – equal to the population of France – had been forced from their homes by poverty, war or persecution. And half of them are children, many separated from parents.
The agency’s annual Global Trends report, published today, World Refugee Day – says one person in every Protected content a refugee, in “a level of risk for which UNHCR knows no precedent".
The rate at which the problem was increasing was almost incomprehensible, said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “Every minute 24 people flee their homes. This is a striking, striking figure."
It has always been dangerous to be a refugee, “but these days those risks have increased", Mr Grandi said. “Think of the refugees that have to cross thousands of kilometres of desert in hardship with a lot of people threatening them. Think of women that face exploitation in order to reach places of safety."
Equally threatening, he said, was “the hostile xenophobic environment that is growing in rich countries and elsewhere".