Almost 60 million people worldwide were forcibly uprooted by conflict and persecution at the end of last year, the highest ever recorded number, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday, while warning that the situation could deteriorate further.
More than half the displaced from crises including Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia were children, The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its annual Global Trends Report.
“I believe things will get worse before they eventually start to get better,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said at a news conference in Istanbul. UNHCR said that Syria, where conflict has raged since 2011, was the world’s biggest source of internally displaced people and refugees.
“Even amid such sharp growth in numbers, the global distribution of refugees remains heavily skewed away from wealthier nations and towards the less wealthy,” UNHCR said.
Guterres said the responsibility to protect Syrian refugees should not be lie solely with Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and called on the European Union and other parts of the world to open their borders to refugees.