Thursday, September 15, 2016

Larry Elliott - Number of people displaced by conflict 'equivalent to UK population of 65m'

The World Bank and the United Nations have highlighted the impact of conflicts on civilians in a report showing that the number of displaced people around the globe is equivalent to the UK’s population of 65 million. A study launched jointly by the Bank and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) shows that the root of the problem are 10 conflicts responsible for the majority of forced displacement every year for the past quarter of a century.

The report said the issue was emerging as an important development challenge that threatened a backlash against refugees. “Extreme poverty is now increasingly concentrated among vulnerable groups, including people who had to flee in the face of conflict and violence, and their presence affects development prospects in the communities that are hosting them,” the report said. “Large movements of people are also fuelling xenophobic reactions, even in high-income countries, and this could threaten the consensus that is underpinning global economic growth.”

The study singled out Afghanistan, Burundi, the Caucasus, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and the former Yugoslavia as responsible for a crisis that affects 1% of the world’s population. Despite the controversy over refugees and often strong opposition to them in developed countries, the Bank and the UN said that neighbouring developing countries shouldered almost all of the responsibility for coping with the impact of the violent struggles.

The report said that 89% of refugees and 99% of internally displaced people were hosted by around 15 developing countries, a pattern unchanged since 1991. At the end of 2015, Syria’s neighbours – Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey – hosted 27% of all refugees worldwide; Iran and Pakistan, Afghanistan’s neighbours, hosted 16%; and Ethiopia and Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan’s neighbours, hosted 7%.

“Forced displacement denies development opportunities to millions, creating a major obstacle to our efforts to end extreme poverty by 2030,” said the World Bank’s president, Jim Yong Kim...

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