More Than 50 Million Refugees For First Time Since WWII

Justin Smith Contributor
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There are now more than 50 million refugees worldwide for the first time since World War II, according to a United Nations Refugee Agency global report released Friday.

At the end of 2013, 51.2 million people had been displaced from their homes, a figure the world hasn’t seen in more than 50 years. The Syrian civil war is contributing most to this number, with more than 2.5 million Syrians fleeing to neighboring countries and over 6.5 million being displaced within the country due to the ongoing conflict.

“The world has shown a limited capacity to prevent conflicts and to find a timely solution to them,” U.N. High Commissioner Antonio Gutteres said, “Today, we not only have an absence of a global governance system, but we have sort of an unclear sense of power in the world.”

This number is placing a strain on both neighboring countries and aid agencies alike. Countries such as Lebanon, which took in more than one million Syrian refugees last year, are quickly running out of basic necessities in refugee camps. The one million refugees now make up close to one-fourth of Lebanon’s 4.5 million people.

Of the 51.2 million refugees, 12 million are being cared for by United Nations aid agencies, and 6.3 million of those have been displaced for more than five years. The largest populations of refugees are from Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria, according to the report. The countries harboring the most refugees are Iran, Lebanon and Pakistan, countries all being threatened by the conflict in Syria.

“The numbers represent a quantum leap in forced displacement around our world,” Gutteres said, “For the first time since the Second World War, we had in 2013 more than 50 million people displaced by conflict and persecution either crossing borders or within the borders of their countries.”