United Nations: Number of global refugees highest ever
MANILA, Philippines – There were more than 50 million refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced individuals worldwide by the end of 2013, the highest figure of global forced displacement since World War II.
This is according to the latest report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched on Thursday, June 19.
Combined data from government and non-government organizations from all over the world show that figures on forced displacement increased by 6 million from the 45.2 million figure in 2012 to 51.2 million in 2013.
“We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending wars, of failing to resolve or prevent conflict,” UNHCR's Antonio Guterres said.
According to the report, the large increase can be attributed to the war in Syria which made 2.5 million people refugees and made 6.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Forced displacement in the PH
On the other hand, the combined impact of internal armed conflict and natural hazards placed the Philippines among the top 12 countries with new highest displacement figures in 2013.
According to Bernard Kerblat, the UNHCR representative to the Philippines, the UNHCR has monitored the state of internal displacement in Mindanao over time. Kerblat said that the recurring disasters in the region such as Typhoon Washi in 2011, Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) in 2012, and the 23-day Zamboanga armed conflict in September 2013, have all served to raise the overall number of IDPs.
According to the report, around 328,000 were forced to flee their homes, of whom at least 116,000 were still displaced by the end of 2013.
Eight months after the siege, DSWD reported a total of remaining 63,971 internally displaced persons (IDPs) both inside and outside evacuation centers in Zamboanga city. Human trafficking and prostitution have also threatened to worsen the conditions of IDPs.
But, there is hope.
Resilience after Yolanda
Although much has yet to be done, Kerblat also commended the resilience of Filipino people and the progress of recovery in Yolanda-hit areas.
“Notwithstanding, the enormity of task at hand, the collaboration of humanitarian efforts coupled with people’s remarkable resilience over the last seven moths has ensured no famine, disease outbreaks, nor secondary major displacement,” Kerblat noted.
However, the ‘exemplary response’ experienced in Yolanda-hit areas, according to Kerblat, is not the same across other lingering emergencies worldwide.
In order to contribute a solution to the increasing number of refugees worldwide, Kerblat called on everyone to “to spell a hopeful ending to one refugee family’s story at a time.” - with a report from Raisa Serafica/Rappler.com
Learn about the UNHCR and the stories of the refugees and displaced persons they assist.