The number of people fleeing their homes and becoming refugees or displaced in their own countries will increase in the next 10 years as a result of a host of intertwined causes ranging from conflict and climate change to population growth and food shortages, according to a report Thursday by the U.N. refugee agency.
“The State of the World’s Refugees,” covering the period 2006-2011, said a key change and dominant challenge is the increasing number of internally displaced people — some 26 million globally compared to around 15-16 million refugees who have crossed borders to another country and a further one million asylum seekers.
It said helping the internally displaced is becoming more costly and dangerous, citing Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq where access is difficult and conflict or criminality can present deadly risk.
“Global forced displacement reached a 16-year high in 2011 and has become more complex than ever before,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in a preface to the report. “Today, conflict and human rights abuses — the traditional drivers of displacement — are increasingly intertwined with and compounded by other factors such as population pressure, food insecurity and water scarcity.”
Ban said many of these factors are related “to the relentless advance of climate change.” In addition, he said, “growing numbers of people are being uprooted by natural disasters.”