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Global conflict leaves 65.3 million people without a home

In the time it takes for you to read this article, another 24 people will have been displaced.

Thursday September 1, 2016

UNHCR refugee and asylum seeker report 2016 - Unprecedented 65.3 million people displaced
According to a new report released by the UN Refugee Agency, the number of displaced people across the world has hit a record high of 65.3 million. Photo:IFRC/ Ibrahim Malla

According to a new report released by the UN Refugee Agency, the number of displaced people across the world has hit a record high of 65.3 million-that's one person in every 113. Showing an increase of 5.8 million from the previous year, these are the highest levels of displaced people in the sixty-year history of the United Nations, exceeding even the numbers seen after World War Two.

Whilst the number of displaced people has been climbing over the past twenty years, there has been a dramatic and steep rise in the last five, from 42.5 million in 2011 to 65.3 million in 2015. That's an increase of more than 50 per cent in the space of five years. If this population was a country, it would be the 21st largest in the world.

Out of this number, 40.8 million were displaced within their own country, 21.3 million were refugees and 3.2 million were asylum-seekers. To put these figures into perspective, it's the same as if the entire population of the United Kingdom had to leave their homes to flee conflict and persecution.  

Distressingly, children made up an astonishing 51 per cent of the world's refugees in 2015, with many separated from their parents or travelling alone, UNHCR said.

Remarkably, half of the world's refugees originate from just three countries: Syria at 4.9 million, Afghanistan at 2.7 million and Somalia at 1.1 million.

According to the UNHCR Report, the reasons are threefold. Conflicts such as those in Afghanistan and Somalia are ongoing; fresh or familiar violence is breaking out or re-erupting in countries such as Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Central African Republic and Ukraine; and the world is taking longer to figure out what to do with displaced people.  

Last year, more than one million refugees and migrants flocked to Europe's shores, a fourfold increase on the previous year. While this influx has caused much consternation in Europe, it pales in comparison to the number of refugees residing in developing countries.

A massive 86 per cent of the world's refugees are being hosted by low- and middle-income countries close to situations of conflict. Turkey was once again the world's biggest host country, taking in 2.5 million refugees, most of them from Syria.

Pakistan was next, with 1.6 million people, most of them from neighboring Afghanistan. Lebanon had the most refugees in relation to its population: there is one refugee for every five citizens.

In 2015, Australia was host to a total of 36,917 refugees. 13,756 were new visas under the offshore Humanitarian Programme.   

Read the full report: UNHCR Global Trends Report 2015  

Make a difference: 5 ways you can help refugees in your community

Australia is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world and there are many things you can do to make your community an even more welcoming, more supportive and more inclusive place to live.  

You could offer someone practical help to settle in, show someone how to access the local services, help them to learn or practice English, or help to establish friendships and networks.  

Here's five easy things you can do to help refugees and asylum seekers where you live.