Escaping wars, conflict and persecution, more people have been forced to flee their homes over the last year than any other time in recorded history, according to new study released Thursday by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).
According to the UNHCR's annual Global Trends Report, the number of people forcibly displaced in the world was recorded at a staggering 59.5 million by the end of 2014, compared to 51.2 million in 2013 – what represents the biggest jump on record within a one year time span. Ten years ago, there were only 37.5 million displaced persons.
As these displaced persons seek refuge or asylum in other countries, the UNHCR noted that over half of the world's refugees are children.
“We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.
According to the report, the vast majority of displaced persons are from Syria, which has been under intense civil war since 2011.
drama is if people think humanitarians can clean up the mess. Its no longer possible. We've no capacities to pick up pieces,UNHCR Guterres— Aisha Dabo™ (@mashanubian) June 18, 2015
However, 14 other conflicts around the world have forced people out of their homes and contributed to the drastic rise in displaced persons, according to the UNHCR. These include conflicts in Côte d'Ivoire, Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, northeastern Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and this year in Burundi, Iraq, Yemen, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and in several areas of Myanmar and Pakistan.
“With huge shortages of funding and wide gaps in the global regime for protecting victims of war, people in need of compassion, aid and refuge are being abandoned,” warned Guterres. “For an age of unprecedented mass displacement, we need an unprecedented humanitarian response and a renewed global commitment to tolerance and protection for people fleeing conflict and persecution.”
The report was released just one day after the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace released a study with similar results. In their 2015 Global Peace Index, which tracks the state of war and violence globally, more people are now displaced by war and other crises than any other time since the end of World War II.