20 June, 2016
Twenty-four people are displaced from their homes every minute, according to the United Nations.
A report by the UN Refugee Agency said 65.3 million people became or remained displaced from their homes in 2015, setting a new post-World War II record. That is more people than the populations of the United Kingdom, France or Italy.
The report said that, "If those 65.3 million persons were a nation, they would make up the 21st largest in the world." The report was released on Monday, which was World Refugee Day.
The report listed three major reasons for the increase in displaced people.
- Conflicts last longer. The conflicts in Somalia and Afghanistan are now in their third and fourth decades.
- Many refugees come from Syria, where a civil war is now in its fifth year. Conflicts are also continuing in South Sudan, Yemen, Burundi, Ukraine, and Central African Republic.
- It is harder to find homes for refugees, partly because of political opposition.
Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said the situation is sad and dangerous for millions of refugees, many of them children.
"Each day another refugee tragedy is played out in the media; of children, mothers and fathers losing their lives in a desperate bid to escape violence," Grandi said.
In the face of these tragedies, he said, divisive statements continue to be made by political leaders in some countries.
But it is not hopeless, he said. Many people and communities are "opening their homes" to those victimized by war and other tragedies.
The UN report says that about half of the world's refugees are children. Many – almost 100,000 – were separated from their parents.
In Europe and the United States, some political leaders are warning that accepting immigrants from Syria increases the risk of terrorism.
Last week, Donald Trump, the likely Republican candidate for president, again said the United States should not admit refugees from nations with terrorism problems. He made his remarks after an American expressing support for the Islamic State shot and killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Trump said, "We are taking in thousands of people into our country. We have no idea where they come from, we have no idea who the hell they are. We know they believe in certain things that we don't want to believe in."
Last week, 60 international celebrities, led by actor Cate Blanchett, released a video urging people to do their part to help refugees.
Blanchett said, "We must demand that all countries take a shared responsibility for ensuring refugees have protection, shelter and the chance to live a productive life. If enough of us stand together, we will be heard."
Others speaking on the video include actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Margot Robbie, Ben Stiller and Helen Mirren.
A new report from the Pew Research Center highlighted the problems in Syria. It said that about six in 10 Syrians are now displaced from their homes because of the civil war.
Many are in refugee camps in Jordan and other countries looking to settle in Europe, the United States and Canada.
Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
displace – v. to force (people or animals) to leave the area where they live
desperate – adj. very sad and upset because of having little or no hope
bid – n. an attempt to get something done
tragedy – n. a very bad event that causes great sadness and often involves someone's death
celebrity -- n. a well-known person, often in the entertainment field
productive – adj. achieving a lot, getting good results