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72 million people displaced by conflict, disasters and development

The World Disasters Report 2012 has revealed 72 million people were living as forced migrants last year.

Wednesday October 17, 2012

The World Disasters Report 2012 has revealed 72 million people were living as forced migrants last year due to disasters, conflict and development, while disasters also caused $350 billion worth of damage, the highest figure in more than 20 years.

Acting CEO of Australian Red Cross, Michael Raper, said the World Disasters Report shines a light on the growing number of people displaced by conflict, violence, persecution and political upheaval, natural disasters, and large-scale development projects.

"The issue of refugees and asylum seekers tends to cause great debate in Australia but of the tens of millions of people around the world displaced by conflict, persecution, disasters and development last year, less than half of one per cent came to this country," said Mr Raper.

"Right now the world is facing a humanitarian crisis of forced migration in Syria where more than 1.2 million people have fled their homes due to the fighting and around 340,000 refugees have crossed into neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.

"There is a real risk people fleeing the conflict in Syria will join the 20 million forced migrants worldwide who are living in a state of prolonged displacement. People living in prolonged displacement are typically unable to work or access social services, and face a desperately uncertain future.

"Forced migrants are among the most vulnerable people in any society. The report calls on all Governments to implement policies that recognise the rights of forced migrants and provide assistance to help them become productive members of the community, not social pariahs.

"Red Cross has been helping forced migrants in Australia for over 20 years. In line with the findings in the World Disasters Report, we strongly believe policies that allow forced migrants, including asylum seekers, to live and work in the community are far more humane and sustainable than detention."

The World Disasters Report is produced each year by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and includes a summary of disaster information.

According to the report, 336 natural disasters cost $350 billion last year, making 2011 the most expensive in more than 20 years in terms of disaster costs. This is despite the fact there were also fewer disasters than recent years. The high financial cost is due to the large scale disasters that hit developed countries, such as the Japan tsunami, Christchurch earthquakes and floods in Queensland.

For more information on the report please visit: Red Cross has launched the Syria Crisis Appeal 2012 to help people affected by the conflict, including the more than one million people displaced by the fighting. To donate to the Appeal call 1800 811 700 or visit the website.