Number of the Day

[Content Note: War; displacement.]

51.2 million: The number of refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced people worldwide.
The UN refugee agency reported today on World Refugee Day that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide has, for the first time in the post-World War II era, exceeded 50 million people.

UNHCR's annual Global Trends report, which is based on data compiled by governments and non-governmental partner organizations, and from the organization's own records, shows 51.2 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2013, fully 6 million more than the 45.2 million reported in 2012.

This massive increase was driven mainly by the war in Syria, which at the end of last year had forced 2.5 million people into becoming refugees and made 6.5 million internally displaced. Major new displacement was also seen in Africa – notably in Central African Republic and South Sudan.

"We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending wars, of failing to resolve or prevent conflict," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. "Peace is today dangerously in deficit. Humanitarians can help as a palliative, but political solutions are vitally needed. Without this, the alarming levels of conflict and the mass suffering that is reflected in these figures will continue."

...Internal displacement – people forced to flee to other parts of their country – amounted to a record 33.3 million people, accounting for the largest increase of any group in the Global Trends report. For UNHCR and other humanitarian actors, helping these people represents a special challenge as many are in conflict zones.
This number does not, of course, include people who were displaced, and continue to be displaced, as a result of colonialist land grabs.

I really appreciate Guterres' point that prevention of conflict is crucial. This, again, is one of the things I'm talking about when I grouse about how we don't have meaningful conversations about all the costs of war.

We talk about taxpayer dollars, and we don't talk about the human cost. Even when we hesitantly (and usually dishonestly) broach the subject at all, we talk about mitigating loss of life, but we never talk about how war pushes people out of their homes. Often forever.

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