The year 2015 saw a record number of people fleeing their homes, with more than 60 million people uprooted by wars, conflict and persecution in countries ranging from Syria to South Sudan and Afghanistan, according to the United Nations.
The UN Refugee Agency reports the number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 had risen to a staggering 59.5 million compared to 51.2 million a year earlier and 37.5 million a decade ago. The increase represents the biggest leap ever seen in a single year. Moreover, the report said the situation was likely to worsen still further. Indications from the first half of the year suggest 2015 is on track to see worldwide forced displacement exceeding 60 million for the first time.
In the past five years, at least 15 conflicts have erupted or reignited: eight in Africa ; three in the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, and Yemen); one in Europe (Ukraine) and three in Asia (Kyrgyzstan, and in several areas of Myanmar and Pakistan). Since early 2011, the main reason for the acceleration has been the war in Syria, now the world's biggest producer of both internally displaced people (7.6 million) and refugees (3.9 million at the end of 2014). Afghanistan (2.6 million) and Somalia (1.1 million) are the next biggest refugee source countries.
The global refugee total, which a year ago was 19.5 million, had as of mid-2015 passed the 20 million threshold for the first time since 1992. Asylum applications meanwhile were up 78% over the same period in 2014. And the numbers of internally displaced people jumped by around 2 million to an estimated 34 million.