The number of displaced people across the world has hit a record high of 65.3 million, exceeding even numbers after the World War II, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said.
The UNHCR Global Trends report said one in every 113 people in this world is a refugee. It suggests 65.3 million people globally are either "asylum-seekers, internally displaced or a refugee." The numbers have seen an increase of 5.8 million in a year.
Another report released on Monday by UNHCR suggests half the world's refugees come from three countries — Syria (4.9 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million) and Somalia (1.1 million). Almost 51 percent of the total refugees in 2015 were children below 18 years of age.
UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi was quoted by BBC as saying there has been a "climate of xenophobia" in Europe with the recent influx of migrants. He is of the opinion that European leaders need to work on policies and also on breaking the negative image associated with refugees. "Those who do the opposite, who stir up public opinion against refugees and migrants, have a responsibility in creating a climate of xenophobia that is very worrying in today's Europe," Filippo Grandi was quoted by BBC as saying, citing AFP.
According to the report, there are three reasons for the increase in the number of refugees:
- Long-lasting conflicts that lead to large outflows of refugees
- Situations of insecurity and new or resurfaced conflicts like the one in Syria have become more frequent
- Solutions for "refugees and internally displaced people" is not being found soon enough since the Cold War ended
The UNHCR is now urging everyone to sign their petition #WithRefugees, which will be delivered to the UN headquarters in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly high-level summit on Sep. 19. The petition asks all governments to ensure that "every refugee child gets an education", "every refugee family has somewhere safe to live" and that "every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their community".
The agency launched a major campaign asking the world to show solidarity with the refugees. Over 60 celebrities from around the world, through a video, have supported the campaign to spread the message: "We stand with refugees, please stand with us."
"We are in the middle of a catastrophic displacement crisis that has already uprooted millions of innocent families, and seen too many lose their lives trying to reach safety. The ultimate solution is political — we need peace and stability. But whilst we wait for that, we — as people with a voice — can and must play our part. We must demand that all countries take a shared responsibility for ensuring refugees have protection, shelter and the chance to live a productive life. If enough of us stand together, we will be heard", Cate Blanchett, UNHCR goodwill ambassador, was quoted by the agency as saying.
Blanchett was joined by celebrities like author Khaled Hosseini, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie, Ben Stiller and Dame Helen Mirren and singers Juanes, Mika, and Babaa Maal, in the appeal.