Refugees on the Rise: UN Report: 2014

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By Samantha Hintzen

A spotlight is being put on a UN report just days before International Refugee Day, which was held on June 20th. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has stated that the amount of refugees exceeded just one year earlier by a million due to increased war and persecution with the new number totaling 51.2 million.

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The largest numbers of refugees come from Afghanistan with 2.56 million refugees. The increase of turmoil in Syria has given them second place with almost 2.47 million refugees. The majority of these refugees are crossing the border into neighboring nations for safety and security. This has dramatically increased the number of refugees within neighboring states. This is evident in Pakistan, which now hosts 1.6 million refugees, Islamic Republic of Iran which presently hosts 857,400 and Lebanon which is home to 856,500 refugees and Jordan with 641,900 refugees and Turkey with 609,900 refugees.

However, there are many concerns for the countries that are able to host such large numbers of refugees within their borders, which can include the straining of state resources and even destabilization to the country, which, as seen in the world before, can potentially lead to a violent civil war. The top three host-nations in relation to their national population is Lebanon coming in first with 178 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants, and then Jordan with 88 and Chad with 34.

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The potential for hostility within host nations towards refugees can become even more pungent due to fact that 86% of refugees are hosted by developing countries, whereas 14% in wealthy nations. This is a dramatic change as compared to just 10 years ago where developing nations only hosted 70% of the world’s refugees. In fact, 46% of refugees or in other words 5.4 million refugees relocated into nations where the GDP per capita was below USD 5,000. Thus, with developing nations taking the majority of the weight of hosting the majority of refugees leads to a greater potential for increased tensions within host nations.

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There is always going to be a struggle for a country to allow refugees within their borders, and perhaps there may be an increase in tension between the refugee and the native citizen of that country, however, there must always be an open door to refugees. Thus, if the international community is unable to decrease the chances of the outbreak of civil war within a nation, there must be greater effort to help to ensure the safety and comfort of incoming refugees to host nations. The Syrian Arab Republic had moved from being the world’s second largest refugee-hosting country to being its second largest refugee-producing country – within a span of just five years. Thus, there is a big problem of unpredictability with refugee host nations. Children below 18 years constituted 50% of the refugee population in 2013, the highest figure in a decade. Again, there needs to be better assistance from the international community to help assist with the pressure given to developing nations who allow refugees within their borders and ensure the development of institutions to help youth to ensure a progressive future.