A United Nations report revealed that nearly 66 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes last year.
The UN refugee agency reported that “very high” volumes of conflict and persecution is forcing people to flee their homes. The figure, the UN stated, translates to “one person being displaced every three seconds – less than the time it takes to read this sentence.”
Nyawet Tut, a South Sudanese mother of five in her 30s, related how soldiers set fire to her village forcing her to flee with her five children as well as five others from relatives who were killed in the conflict.
“My husband was killed in the war which, in addition to the shortage of food, made me decide to leave my home, everything, behind,” she told Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) staff during an interview in Ethiopia.
The report, released by the UNHCR, showed an increase of 300,000 since the end of 2015. “By any measure, this is an unacceptable number,” said UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi, as he called for “solidarity and a common purpose in preventing and resolving the crisis.”
Grandi also highlighted the need to protect and care for the world's 22.5 million refugees, 40.3 million internally displaced individuals as well as the 2.8 million asylum-seekers.
According to the report, Syria remains “the world's biggest producer of refugees” with 12 million people living outside of the country. Among the displaced are 7.7 million Colombians, 4.7 million Afghans and 4.2 million Iraqis.
In 2016, war-ravaged South Sudan joined the list when approximately 737,400 people fled the country after peace efforts broke down in July. In total, about 3.3 million South Sudanese had left their homes – the fastest-growing displacement of people in the world.
The report showed that nearly half of last year's refugee population is under 18 years old.
Children make up about 31 percent of the total world population.
Among its findings, the report noted that some 75,000 asylum claims were received from unaccompanied minors.
“There was no future where we lived,” 16-year-old Tareq – who fled toTurkey after eluding armed combatants in Syria – told the UNHCR. “There was no university and no work. There were troops grabbing young children like me, and they send them to war, and they get killed. I wanted to study.”
UNHCR reported that, currently, developing countries are hosting the majority of the world's refugees. About 84 percent of the people were in low- or middle-income countries as of the end of 2016. Of that figure, one in every three people – about 4.9 million – were hosted by underdeveloped nations.
“This huge imbalance reflects several things including the continuing lack of consensus internationally when it comes to refugee hosting and the proximity of many poor countries to regions of conflict,” the UN agency said.