More than 50 million people worldwide currently are refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced within their own countries, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday, in a new report released to mark World Refugee Day.
That figure is more than the entire population of Spain, South Africa or South Korea, or more than double the population of Australia.
The 51.2 million registered for 2013 is also 6 million more than the 45.2 million reported in 2012, according to the UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report — a big jump in the wrong direction.
The huge increase was driven mainly by the war in Syria. Major internal displacement was also seen last year in Africa, in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, where conflicts have taken on an increasingly ethnic nature.
“We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending wars, of failing to resolve or prevent conflict,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.