Record number of refugees last year: UN
United Nations: Over 800,000 people were forced to flee their countries as refugees last year, the highest in more than a decade, following the humanitarian crises in nations like Libya, Somalia and Sudan, the United Nations said.
Marking 'World Refugee Day' today, the UN said a record 800,000 people were forced to flee across borders last year, more than at any time since 2000.
The new refugees are part of a total of 4.3 million people who were newly displaced last year, owing to a string of major humanitarian crises that began in late 2010 in Cote d'Ivoire and followed by others in Libya, Somalia, Sudan and elsewhere.
"These numbers represent far more than statistics; they are individuals and families whose lives have been upended, whose communities have been destroyed, and whose future remains uncertain," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in his message to mark the Day, observed annually on June 20.
The UN marks the day by focussing on the more than 42 million people worldwide who have been forcibly displaced from their homes, and raising awareness of the dilemmas facing this vulnerable group of people.
"Refugees leave because they have no choice. We must choose to help," Ban said.
The UN chief stressed the need to work together to mobilise the political will and leadership to prevent and end the conflicts that trigger refugee flows.
In nations where security is restored, it is vital to address the underlying causes of conflict, allowing sustainable refugee return through access to livelihoods, services and the rule of law, he added.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees would mark the day by rolling out a new campaign 'Dilemmas,' which depicts some of the tough choices facing refugees, helping the public to empathise with, and understand, their dilemma.
It is being supported in special television spots by UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie and other celebrities, including some of the agency's many Goodwill Ambassadors.
UNHCR has also developed a free smart-phone application, a role playing game called 'My Life as a Refugee,' to support the campaign on various digital platforms around the world.