UN: Number of refugees reaches record high

UN High Commissioner for Refugees releases new report about current state of migrants. Notes that one out of every 113 people is a refugee.

Nissan Tzur,

Yazidi refugees in Iraq
Yazidi refugees in Iraq

One out of every 113 people in the world was forced to leave their home and is now classified as a "refugee" or "asylum seeker," according to recently-released information from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The recent report notes that a total of 65.3 million people became refugees or asylum seekers by the end of 2015. This is the largest such number in history and represents an increase of 5 million people each year who fled their homes due to regional conflicts. Turkey is housing the most refugees, as 2.5 million people entered its territory over the past few years, followed by Pakistan and Lebanon.

In 2015 alone, 12.4 million people were forced to seek asylum in other countries due to military conflicts.

The report's authors added that 23 more people flee their homes every minute, and that 54 percent of world refugees come from three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. Half of all refugees today are under the age of 18.

The authors further claim that, despite reports of a wave of migrants reaching Europe last year, 86 percent settled in low or moderate income countries. At the same time, many refugees stated they were interested in reaching Germany or Sweden, countries with stronger economies. Most preferred Germany, followed by the US and Sweden.

"I hope that the message carried by those forcibly displaced reaches the leaderships: We need action, political action, to stop conflicts," said the High Commissioner, Filippo Grandi. "The message that they have carried is: 'If you don't solve problems, problems will come to you.'"

The annual report also noted that there has been a right-wing shift of public opinion in Europe, and a significant growth in support for right-wing political parties that oppose accepting refugees. "A worrying trend of xenophobia has begun to took root in Europe as part of the struggle against the wave of migrants."