A record 65.3 million people were uprooted worldwide last year, many of them fleeing wars only to face walls, tougher laws and xenophobia as they reach borders, the United Nations refugee agency said on Monday.
The figure, which jumped from 59.5 million in 2014 and by 50 percent in five years, means that 1 in every 113 people on the planet is now a refugee, asylum-seeker or internally displaced in a home country.
Fighting in Syria, Afghanistan, Burundi and South Sudan has driven the latest exodus, bringing the total number of refugees to 21.3 million, half of them children, the UNHCR said in its “Global Trends” report marking World Refugee Day.
“The refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean and arriving on the shores of Europe, the message that they have carried is that if you don’t solve problems, problems will come to you,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told a news briefing.
“It’s painful that it has taken so long for people in the rich countries to understand that,” he said. “We need action, political action to stop conflicts, that would be the most important prevention of refugee flows.”