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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2583

42 million displaced last year, says UNHCR

Wajid Ali Syed - Reporting From Washington

Washington, 18 June, (Asiantribune.com): The UN refugee agency reports 42-million people were forcibly uprooted by conflict and persecution at the end of last year. In its annual report, the UNHCR says most of the world's refugees and internally displaced people are in developing countries. The report says the number of uprooted people reflects a sharp slowdown in repatriation and more prolonged conflicts, resulting in victims remaining homeless for longer periods of time. The total includes 16-million refugees and asylum seekers and 26-million internally displaced people uprooted within their own country.

The UN refugee agency notes the number of IDP's it cares for has more than doubled since 2005. This indicates that more people are being forced from their homes as a result of civil conflict than international wars.

UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond says the vast majority of uprooted people are in developing countries. He says the poorest nations hosted 80 percent of all refugees.

Last year's total of 42-million uprooted people represents a drop of about 700,000 over the previous year. But the UNHCR notes new displacement in 2009 has more than offset the decline. This includes substantial new displacements in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Somalia.In addition, the report documents several longer-term internal displacement situations in places such as Colombia, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia.

Redmond says repatriation in 2008 was down. He says altogether about two-million refugees and internally displaced did go home. "Refugee repatriation, which was about 604,000 going home was down 17 percent, while internal displacement returns at 1.4 million were down 34 percent over the previous year. It was the second lowest repatriation total in 15 years and this decline in part reflects deteriorating security conditions, namely in Afghanistan and Sudan."

Redmond says 11-million refugees have returned home during the past 10 years. Most with UNHCR assistance, but that number now is going down.

The report finds major refugee-hosting countries in 2008 included Pakistan, Syria, Iran, Germany, Jordan, Chad, Tanzania and Kenya. And, it says major countries of origin included Afghanistan and Iraq, which together account for nearly half of all refugees under the care of the UNHCR.

- Asian Tribune -

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