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United Nations says a record 68.5 million people have been forced flee their homes

A record 68.5 million people have been forced flee their homes due to war, violence and persecution, notably in places like Myanmar and Syria, the UN said on Tuesday.

By the end of 2017, the number was nearly three million higher than the previous year and showed a 50-per cent increase from the 42.7 million uprooted from their homes a decade ago, according to a report by the UN refugee agency.

The current figure is equivalent to the entire population of Thailand, and the number of people forcibly displaced equates to one in every 110 persons worldwide, it said.

“We are at a watershed, where success in managing forced displacement globally requires a new and far more comprehensive approach so that countries and communities aren’t left dealing with this alone,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

But around 70 per cent of that number are people from just 10 countries, he told reporters in Geneva ahead of the report’s launch.

“If there were solutions to conflicts in those 10 countries, or in some of them at least, that huge figure, instead of rising every year, could start going down,” he said, calling for more political will to halt the crises driving so many from their homes.

 Every two seconds 

The report showed that 16.2 million people were freshly displaced last year, and included those forced to flee for the first time as well as those who had been previously displaced.

This equates to some 44,500 people being pushed out of their homes every day or one person every two seconds, UNHCR said.

Most people flee within their own country and are defined as internally displaced people, or IDPs.

By the end of 2017, there were some 40 million IDPs worldwide, down slightly from previous years, with Colombia, Syria and Democratic Republic of Congo accounting for the greatest numbers.

Another 25.4 million people more than half of them children were registered as refugees last year.

That is nearly three million more than in 2016, and “the highest known total to date”, it said.

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