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Amnesty urges donors to give more to South Sudan refugees

20 June 2017

People around the world were forced to leave their homes in record numbers in 2016.

That number marks a jump of just 300,000 from the end of 2015, but is more than six million higher than at the end of 2014, according to a report published by the United Nations refugee agency.

The ongoing conflict in South Sudan has caused massive displacement, extensive violence along ethnic lines, dire food shortages and unimaginable levels of suffering among South Sudanese people, particularly women and children, Bibeau said.

Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) that tracks displacement across the globe said the system protecting refugees will collapse "if we do not step up our support to countries like Uganda".

At the same time, returns of refugees and internally displaced people to their homes, combined with other solutions such as resettlement in third countries meant that for some, 2016 brought the prospect of improvement.

In 2016, 22.5 million refugees fled their home country - the highest number since the agency was founded in 1950.

"By any measure this is an unacceptable number", said Filipo Grandi, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees.

Syria's six-year civil war remained the largest single source of displacement, with 12 million people — around two-thirds of the population — either uprooted within the country of having fled overseas, the group said.

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Turkey, which has taken in the largest number of Syrians, to a total of 2.9 million at the end of 2015.

The UN refugee chief meanwhile voiced alarm over the rapidly deteriorating situation in South Sudan, calling it the world's "fastest growing refugee crisis and displacement crisis".

While the conflict in Syria was the greatest source of newly recognised refugees in 2016, at 824,000, the UNHCR report points to the crises in sub-Saharan Africa as a major concern. Syria, Iraq and Colombia - which has endured decades of conflict - had the largest number of internally displaced people.

The Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 320,000 people, "is becoming a forgotten crisis", warned Grandi.

Around half a million other refugees were able to return to their home countries, and about 6.5 million internally displaced people to their areas of origin - although many did so in less than ideal circumstances and facing uncertain prospects. More than six million people - half of South Sudan's population - are in need of urgent aid and humanitarian organizations expect the number to rise by 20 to 30 percent in 2017.

The report also supplied data on host countries, revealing that Turkey hosted the most refugees in 2016, with almost three million fleeing to Turkey for safety. Only Syria witnessed a larger number of new refugees at 824,000. "But, Lebanon, another one of the neighboring countries, is the country that has the highest per capita ratio compared to the local population in terms of the number of refugees".

A third (4.9 million people) are hosted by the world's least developed countries.

The UNHCR said it hoped Monday's record breaking numbers would encourage wealthy countries to think again: Not just to accept more refugees, but to invest in peace promotion, and reconstruction.