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Somalia crisis produced 1.14 million refugee in 2012: UNHCR
Saturday, June 22, 2013

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Somalia generated the second largest number of refugees (1.14 million) of any country in the world in 2012, though the rate of refugee outflow slowed, the UN refugee agency said in a report published on Thursday.

The report which was launched ahead of the World Refugee Day on Thursday also reveals that Iraqis were the third largest refugee group (746,700 persons), followed by Syrians (471,400).

UNHCR’ s annual Global Trends in displacement report highlights that last year 7.6 million people were newly displaced due to conflict or persecution, with a total of 45.2 million people around the world in situations of displacement, meaning that more people are refugees or internally displaced than at any point since 1994.

Reacting to the report, UNHCR Somalia Representative, Alessandra Morelli, said over one million people are still internally displaced (IDPs) in Somalia while another one million Somalis are refugees in neighbouring countries.

“For the first time in over 22 years, Somalia is showing tangible signs of a return to normality, characterised by an improvement in the political and security landscape,” Morelli said on Wednesday.

The report comes as Kenya has been lobbying the international community for support for speedy resettlement of Somali refugees residing in the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab in northern Kenya and those living in other urban cities and towns.

Kenyan leaders have emphasized that it has no intention of interfering with the domestic affairs of Somalia saying his government’s only agenda is to support the establishment of administrative structures as well as institutions necessary for the stabilization and reconstruction of Somalia.

According to UNHCR, a total of 18,108 refugees have returned from the neighboring countries into Somalia since January.

Kenya, a signatory of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention, currently hosts some 630,000 refugees, of whom more than half a million are from neighbouring Somalia.

The report covers displacement that occurred during 2012 based on data from governments, NGO partners, and UNHCR itself.

The report shows that as of the end of 2012, more than 45.2 million people were in situations of displacement compared to 42.5 million at the end of 2011.

This includes 15.4 million refugees, 937,000 asylum seekers, and 28.8 million people forced to flee within the borders of their own countries.

According to the report, war remains the dominant cause with about 55 per cent of all refugees listed in UNHCR’s report come from just five war-affected countries of Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

The report also charts major new displacement from Mali, in Democratic Republic of the Congo, and from Sudan into South Sudan and Ethiopia.

The UN refugee agency also highlights worrisome trends in several areas, one of which is the rate at which people are today being forced into situations of displacement.

During 2012 some 7.6 million people became newly displaced, 1.1 million of them as refugees and 6.5 million as internally displaced people. This translates to a new refugee or internally displaced person every 4.1 seconds.

“In this context, UNHCR and its partners will maximise these opportunities in the search for durable solutions for displaced Somalis. This is the time for UNHCR to stay at the centre of this change,” Morelli said.

Also evident is a continuing gap between richer and poorer countries when it comes to who is hosting refugees. In all, developing countries host 81 per cent of the world’s refugees compared to 70 per cent a decade ago.

According to the report, children below age 18 make up 46 percent of all refugees.

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