2015 worst year for number of refugees, over 60mn forced out of homes globally – UN

© Carlos Barria
In six months in 2015 over 20 million people fled wars and persecution, more than in the whole of 2014, the UN has reported. Total global forced displacement this year is likely to exceed all previous records and go beyond 60 million people.

"2015 is on track to see worldwide forced displacement exceeding 60 million for the first time - 1 in every 122 humans is today someone who has been forced to flee their homes," the report said.

Not only are people fleeing their homes in record numbers, but opportunities for them to return safely are at the lowest level in three decades, the UN Refugee Agency’s report said. Between January and June an estimated 84,000 refugees voluntarily returned home, compared to 107,000 over the same period last year.

"In effect, if you become a refugee today your chances of going home are lower than at any time in more than 30 years," the report said.

Some 839,000 people joined the ranks of refugees over the period, with Syria and Ukraine accounting for about half of that number. Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq made large contributions as well.

"Never has there been a greater need for tolerance, compassion and solidarity with people who have lost everything," Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement.

Germany was the largest recipient of asylum seekers in the first six months of the year as the inflow steadily increased and reached 159,000, close to the entire total for 2014. Russia is the second-largest recipient with 100,000 asylum claims lodged, most of them by Ukrainians fleeing the armed conflict in the east of the country.

However, countries bordering conflict zones, many of them developing nations themselves, are hit hardest by the flow of refugees, the report added. Lebanon hosts the biggest number of refugees compared to its population size; Ethiopia pays most in relation to the size of its economy, hosting 469 refugees for every dollar of GDP (per capita, at purchasing power parity); Turkey hosts the world’s biggest share of refugees in its territory, amounting to 1.84 million.