Almost 60 million people forced to flee their homes as UNHCR marks World Refugee Day 2015
UNHCR, 18 Jun 2015
As the UNHCR prepares to mark World Refugee Day on 20 June, the agency’s report, released today, shows that worldwide displacement from wars, conflict, and persecution is at the highest levels we have recorded, and accelerating fast.
UNHCR’s new annual Global Trends report shows a sharp escalation in the number of people forced to flee their homes, with 59.5 million people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 compared to 51.2 million a year earlier and 37.5 million a decade ago. The increase since 2013 was the highest ever reported for a single year.
In Africa alone there are 3.7 million refugees and 11.4 million displaced people, 4.5 of these were newly displaced in 2015. In Ethiopia, there were 698,687 refugees at the end of May 2015, more than 100,000 of them newly displaced during the past one year.
“We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. “It is terrifying that on the one hand there is more and more impunity for those starting conflicts, and on the other there is seeming utter inability of the international community to work together to stop wars and build and preserve peace.”
UNHCR’s report shows that in the past five years, at least 15 conflicts have erupted or reignited: Eight in Africa; one in Europe and three in Asia. Few of these crises have been resolved and most still generate new displacement.
The growing refugee arrivals from South Sudan and other neighbouring countries resulted in Ethiopia replacing Kenya as the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and the fifth largest in the world.
“This, indeed, is not an enviable position to be in but it tells a lot about the Government and people of Ethiopia”, said Clementine Nkweta-Salami, the UNHCR Representative to Ethiopia. “On the one hand, this bears testimony to the continuation of Ethiopia’s age-old tradition of welcoming and giving refuge to people in distress. On the hand, it is a clear indication to the fact that Ethiopia remains an island of stability in this otherwise troubled region”.
Ethiopia plays host to refugees from more than 20 nationalities but the four main groups are South Sudanese 273,143 (39.09%), Somalis 246,975 (35.35%), Eritreans 136,246 (19.50%) and Sudanese 36,606 (5.24%).
In order to celebrate the courage and resilience of the refugees in Ethiopia and elsewhere as well as to focus the public’s attention on their plight, UNHCR together with the government refugee agency-ARRA- and other partners, has been organizing different activities to mark World Refugee Day under the theme: refugees are people like you and me. All the 24 camps and other refugee sites across the country are organizing World Refugee Day events with activities ranging from sports activities and cultural shows to tree planting, cleaning the environment, recognizing the contributions of refugees to their communities as well as blood donation.
In Addis Ababa where there are some 6,000 urban-based refugees, the main commemorative event will take place on Friday 19 June starting 09:30 am at the Menelik II secondary school hall at Arat Kilo.
On Saturday 20 June, there will be a concert and circus show at the Addis Ababa City Hall starting at 02:00 pm. Refugees and Ethiopians will perform together symbolizing their solidarity and mutual support.
Last but not least, refugees will join Ethiopians in a friendly cycling competition at the Addis Ababa Stadium on Sunday 21 June 2015 starting at 08:00 am.
Our 2015 WRD Campaign highlights our common humanity- by allowing people forced to flee to express themselves- to show that they are ordinary people living through extraordinary times. We hope this encourages tolerance, empathy and understanding. Our WRD Campaign microsites: www.refugeeday.org features testimonials from refugees, IDPS, returnees or resettled refugees describing their passion for a particular activity, for example- cooking, music, poetry, or sports. We ask you to get to know and connect with the people in the stories and to share them with your audiences friends and family.
The full Global Trends report with this information and more, and including data on individual countries, demographics, numbers of people returning to their countries, and available estimates of stateless population is available at http://www.unhcr.org/2014trends.