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Refugee numbers hit a new record

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Refugee numbers hit a new record


Whether they are Palestinian, Iraqi, Somali or Afghan, they live in a state of turmoil and torment, and the numbers are growing.

This year, Iraqis have swelled the ranks of refugees around the world. The flow of those leaving started to increase for the first time in 5 years – whereas those who went home amounted to less than 750,000.

The UN High Commission for Refugees reckons there are 10 million refugees on the move this year – a record figure – adding to the 4.3 million Palestinian refugees recorded by UNWRA making a total of nearly 14.5 million.

The Afghans are still the majority, followed by the Iraqis, the Sudanese, Somalis, those from Congo and Burundi.

Then there are the 24.5 million people displaced within their own countries, and 5.8 million stateless – without nationality. Some of them do not even officially exist.

There are 2.1 million Afghan citizens spread among 71 different countries around the world. Many have made their way to these camps in neighbouring Pakistan. Many of their families left during the Soviet invasion in 1979 – but all are waiting for peace, so they can go home.

There are similar problems for Somalis, heading for Kenya to escape the civil war in their country.

But there has been a marked number of voluntary re-patriations in Liberia, Angola, in southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have brought the statistics down 31 per cent in West Africa, and 18 per cent in the southern part of the continent.

In the Middle East, there seems little hope in the short term at least for the 4.3 million Palestinians spread around Arab countries in the region.

Each day, the Palestinian territories continue to produce a new batch of refugees fleeing the fighting which has gripped the Gaza Strip.

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