Scottish Daily Mail

50m refugee toll is highest since the war

- Mail Foreign Service

THE number of people forced from their homes by conflict and persecutio­n has passed 50million in a year for the first time since the Second World War.

Some 51.2million sought shelter l ast year – the equivalent of almost the entire population of England. The figure, revealed by the United Nations, is up six million from 2012, largely due to Syrians fleeing civil war.

The UN’s high commission­er for refugees, Antonio Gutteres, said: ‘These numbers represent a quantum leap in forced displaceme­nt around the world. For the first time since the Second World War, we had in 2013 more than 50million people displaced by conflict and persecutio­n either crossing borders or within the borders of their countries.’

Some 16.7million of the total had crossed their own nation’s borders. By the end of last year, 2.5million Syrians had become refugees in neighbouri­ng countries while more than 6.5million had been displaced within Syria. Theirs was one of the three worst-affected nations, along with Afghanista­n and Somalia. The UN also highlighte­d the ongoing conflicts and persecutio­ns in other countries including the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

The nations hosting the most refugees were Pakistan, Iran and Lebanon, whose stability is increasing­ly under threat as the Syrian war continues. More than a million Syrians have registered in Lebanon as refugees since the conflict began in 2011; they now comprise nearly a quarter of the country’s population.

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