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The UN refugee agency releases annual statistics showing that more than 51 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2013, the largest number since the end of World War II. Half of the world's refugees in 2013 were children. (Photo: UNHRC)

The UN refugee agency releases annual statistics showing that more than 51 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2013, the largest number since the end of World War II. Half of the world's refugees in 2013 were children. (Photo: UNHRC)

World's Global Refugee Population Highest Since WWII

UNHRC reports that more than 50 million people are displaced, mostly in war-torn regions, across the globe

Jon Queally

The United Nations agency on refugees on Friday announced that the global population of displaced people has surpassed 50 million, numbers not seen since World War II in the middle of last century.

According to the UNHRC's annual Global Trends report (pdf)—which utilizes data compiled by governments and non-governmental partner organizations as well as its own—shows that 51.2 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2013, fully 6 million more than the 45.2 million reported in 2012.

Strikingly, nearly half of those calculated in the UNHRC's findings are children.

As the report notes, "if displaced people had their own country it would be the 24th most populous in the world."

The largest numbers of refugee populations, listed by country:

Though more volatile in key hot spots—including Afghanistan, Syria, the Central African Republic and Somalia—the crisis is not isolated as this video released by UNHCR documents:

"We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending wars, of failing to resolve or prevent conflict," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. "Peace is today dangerously in deficit. Humanitarians can help as a palliative, but political solutions are vitally needed. Without this, the alarming levels of conflict and the mass suffering that is reflected in these figures will continue."

The nearly unparalleled crisis has largely been caused by the failure of individual nations and the global community at large to bring drawn-out armed conflicts to an end. The scale and widespread nature of the refugee crises, warns the agency, is pushing international NGOs and relief agencies to their breaking points.

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