'Every day last year, 30,000 people forced to flee due to violence'

A woman disembarks from an Italian military ship following a rescue operation at sea as part of the Frontex-coordinated Operation Triton. (AFP Photo)


The number of people displaced within their own countries was the worst in a generation last year, but there is little sign of governments taking action to deal with the problem, the Norwegian Refugee Council said on Wednesday.

"Every single day last year 30,000 men, women and children were forced out of their homes because of conflict and violence," the agency's Secretary General Jan Egeland told a news conference in Geneva.

The total number of displaced rose by 11 million to a record 38 million. That does not include people who left their country and became refugees abroad, although many of today's displaced become tomorrow's refugees, he said.

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Sudanese immigrants run behind a truck, which they hope to climb onto, in order to board a ferry to flee to Italy, in the western Greek town of Patras. (Reuters)

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR has yet to compile refugee figures for 2014, but it put the total at 16.7 million at the end of 2013, and the number has grown since then. Egeland, a former top humanitarian official at the United Nations, was launching a report on displacement in 60 countries.

Six out of every 10 people displaced in 2014 were in just five countries: Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. Syria was now "the number one displacement country of this generation", with 7.6 million internally displaced and 4 million refugees, but stopping the problem was possible, Egeland said.

"It's as difficult and as simple to say United States, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey: you have to sit down and send one signal into this conflict: stop it. You have to get your side to go to the negotiating table, and not just talk about the other side." Egeland said none of the humanitarian appeals for the main countries with displacement in 2015 - Iraq, Syria, Central African Republic and South Sudan - was more than 20 percent funded. "So, in some cases, it is not only the brutality of the armed men who make people move, it can also be the lack of minimum support."

Dealing with the issue required diplomatic, political, economic and social investment by governments, especially the world's major powers with the influence to stop wars, he said.

 

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