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OVER 50 million people were forced to flee their homes because of war or persecution last year, hitting a level not seen since the second world war.
The UN refugee body UNHCR pointed out that the overall figure had jumped six million — to a whopping 51.2 million.
UNHCR high commissioner Antonio Guterres said that the increase posed a dramatic challenge to aid organisations, with a sharp increase from conflicts in Syria, central Africa and South Sudan.
“Conflicts are multiplying, more and more and at the same time old conflicts seem never to die,” he said.
Mr Guterres pointed out that, contrary to what politicians and media in the developed world imply, the burden posed by sudden influxes of refugees fall increasingly on the poorest countries of the world.
Developing countries are host to 86 per cent of the world’s refugees, with wealthy countries caring for just 14 per cent. And the gap is growing.
Ten years ago, wealthy countries hosted 30 per cent of refugees while developing countries cared for 70 per cent.
“Now we have a multiplication of new crises. Today we not only have an absence of a global governance system, but we have sort of an unclear sense of power in the world,” said Mr Guterres.
The UN official, former Portuguese politician and once Socialist International president, said that it was very important that Europe fully assumes its responsibilities.
“I think it’s also clear that we have in Europe good examples. Sweden, Germany, have taken very generous measures … but we need a joint expression of European solidarity.”
Mr Guterres said that humanitarian organisations had neither the capacity nor the resources to cope with an increasingly violent world.
“There is no humanitarian solution to these problems. To see the security council paralysed, when all these crises are evolving, is something that doesn’t make sense.
“What frustrates me is the suffering of people, to see so many innocent people dying, so many innocent people fleeing, so many innocent people seeing their lives completely broken, and the world being unable to put an end to this nonsense.”
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