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Syrians Overtake Afghans as Largest Refugees Under UNHCR Mandate

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 7 2015 (IPS) - For the first time, Syrians have become the largest refugee population under the mandate of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) , overtaking Afghans, who had held that position for more than three decades.

Numbering more than 3 million as of June 2014, Syrian refugees account for 23 per cent of all refugees assisted by UNHCR worldwide, according to the figures from the refugee agency`s Mid-Year Trends 2014 report published on January 7.

”The turnaround clearly demonstrates the rapid deterioration of the situation in Syria”, the report said.

Just two years ago, the Syrian Arab Republic did not even feature among the top 30 source countries of refugees. At the beginning of the conflict, Syrian refugees outside their country represented about 14 per cent of the country’s resident population.

Even though more than 100 countries around the world reported the presence of Syrian refugees during the first half of 2014, neighbouring countries continue to shoulder the greatest burden.

This includes Lebanon (1.1 million), Turkey (798,000), Jordan (645,600), Iraq (220,400), and Egypt (138,100). During the first half of the year, the net Syrian refugee population grew by more than half a million persons in these five countries alone.

With an estimated 6.5 million internally displaced persons (those forced to relocate within their own country), the Syrian Arab Republic continues to face the largest situation of internal displacement worldwide.

Another major finding of the report is the shift in the regional distribution of refugee populations. Until last year, the region hosting the largest refugee population was Asia and the Pacific. But as a result of the Syrian crisis, the Middle East and North Africa have become the regions hosting the largest number of refugees.

 
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