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Refugees reached 60 million in 2014 as conflicts flared, U.N. says

The number of people forced from their homes due to conflicts around the world jumped again last year, according to an annual U.N. report released Thursday.

About 59.5 million people were displaced worldwide in 2014, compared to 51.2 million in 2013, which at the time was the highest increase in a single year, said the U.N. refugee agency’s “Global Trends” report. More than half of the refugees are children.

The main driver is the fighting between government and opposition forces in Syria. In its fourth year, the war has caused more than 3 million people to flee to neighboring countries and displaced 7.6 million more. The next largest groups of refugees came from Afghanistan (2.6 million people) and Somalia (1.1 million people).

More than a dozen other conflicts have erupted in the past five years in other places, including Iraq, Yemen, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Central African Republic, Libya, northeastern Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Burundi.

“We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres. “It is terrifying that on the one hand there is more and more impunity for those starting conflicts, and on the other there is seeming utter inability of the international community to work together to stop wars and build and preserve peace.”

The report showed an increase of refugees in all regions: Europe (up 51 percent), Middle East and North Africa (up 19 percent), sub-Saharan Africa (up 17 percent), Asia (up 31 percent) and the Americas (up 12 percent).

Read the full report here.

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