UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The number of people fleeing their homes and becoming refugees or displaced in their own countries will increase in the next 10 years as a result of a host of intertwined causes ranging from conflict and climate change to population growth and food shortages, according to a report Thursday by the U.N. refugee agency.
“The State of the World’s Refugees,” covering the period 2006-2011, said a key change and dominant challenge is the increasing number of internally displaced people — some 26 million globally compared to around 15-16 million refugees who have crossed borders to another country and a further one million asylum seekers.
It said helping the internally displaced is becoming more costly and dangerous, citing Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq where access is difficult and conflict or criminality can present deadly risk.
“Global forced displacement reached a 16-year high in 2011 and has become more complex than ever before,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in a preface to the report. “Today, conflict and human rights abuses — the traditional drivers of displacement — are increasingly intertwined with and compounded by other factors such as population pressure, food insecurity and water scarcity.”
Ban said many of these factors are related “to the relentless advance of climate change.” In addition, he said, “growing numbers of people are being uprooted by natural disasters.”
The 266-page report said experts predict that natural disasters, which are already displacing millions of people, will increase in number and intensity. And it said climate change is likely to increase conflict over scarce resources which could lead to an increase in internal displacement and refugees.
“Global trends suggest that displacement will not only continue in the future but will take different forms,” the report said, citing predictions that global population will increase from 7 billion today to over 10 billion by 2100, with most of the increase in Africa and Asia where increased poverty is likely to squeeze resources and send young people from rural areas to cities.
At a news conference launching the report, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said “a multiplication of new crises … led to the fact that last year, we had the highest number of new refugees in the last decade.”
He said he expects this trend to continue because “the number of crises emerging in 2012 is exactly the same as last year.
At the moment, Guterres said, there are three acute crises — Syria, Sudan-South Sudan and Mali — as well as the recent flight of Congolese to neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
Guterres said 70 percent of refugees his agency deals with have been refugees for more than five years “and it’s becoming more and more difficult to find solutions for them.” It’s also becoming more difficult to reach out to them and support them, he said.
Eighty percent of refugees live in the developing world — including 1.7 million Afghans in Pakistan, 1 million Afghans in Iran, and more than 600,000 refugees in Kenya — and he urged donors and industrialized nations to step up support and offers of resettlement.
Although the U.N. is legally required to help refugees fleeing conflict or persecution, it has no mandate to assist people displaced in their own country, known as IDPs.
But Guterres said his agency has increasingly assisted IDPs and tried to help the 12 million stateless people.
He said an international debate has started on how to deal with the growing number of people forced to move because of issues such as climate change and population growth who have no legal protection.
“Global displacement is an inherently international problem,” Guterres said, “and as such needs international solutions — and by this I mainly mean political solutions.”
More Related Stories
- If Alex Pareene was a cable news executive...
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
- UK officials: Radical Islam behind London attack
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- London machete attack could be linked to terrorism
- Conservative group blames military sexual assault on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal
- Lois Lerner, IRS disaster
- Donald Rumsfeld worried that marriage equality will lead to polygamy
- Experts: Fox News spying scandal a game-changer
- San Francisco Giant Jeremy Affeldt apologizes for homophobic past
- 9-year-old slams Rahm over Chicago schools
- Stockholm riots rage for third day
- Wall Street firm's "Golden Pitchbook" is totally sexist, full of lies
- Must-see morning clip: Toronto's eccentric and allegedly crack-smoking mayor
- Federal court strikes down Arizona abortion ban
- Jodi Arias: I deserve a second chance
- Oklahoma residents return home to pick up the pieces
- Florida man with connection to Tsarnaev killed by FBI
- FBI identifies 5 Benghazi suspects
- Here come the tornado truthers. Already
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11