Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Refugees From Wars and Persecution Increase, U.N. Agency Says

GENEVA — The number of refugees fleeing to other countries to escape conflict and persecution rose in 2007 for the second year as factors from climate change to over scarce resources threatened to increase the flow, the United Nations refugee agency warned Tuesday. A total of 11.4 million refugees were under the care of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2007, including some 400,000 feeling conflict in their home countries, the agency said. The report for 2006 numbered 9.9 million. The total was modest compared with the 17.8 million refugees in 1992 at the time of the Balkan wars, but after a steady drop between 2001 and 2005 it represented a worrying trend , the relief agency said. “We are now faced with a complex mix of global challenges that could threaten even more forced displacement in the future,” Antonio Guterres, the high commissioner for refugees, said in a statement. “They range from multiple new conflict-related emergencies in world hotspots to bad governance, climate-induced environmental degradation that increase competition for scarce resources and extreme price hikes that have hit the poor the hardest and are generating instability in many places.” The number of people displaced by conflict but remaining within their own countries also rose in 2007 to 26 million, the agency said, citing statistics provided by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, a private organization. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan accounted for more than half the world’s refugees in 2007. ...

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