For the first time since the end of World War II, the total number of refugees in the world has risen above 50 million, according to figures released Friday by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The sharp increase in the total number of refugees was in large part the result of the ongoing Syrian civil war, which has forced 2.5 million to flee the country and resulted in 6.5 million internally displaced people. In total, there were some 51.2 million refugees in the world at the end of 2013, an increase of more than six million on the previous year.
On its own, the figure 51.2 million can be somewhat difficult to conceptualize, a figure so large that it's difficult to imagine the human toll of conflict. To understand the scale of the current crisis, consider the fact there are more refugees in the world than there are people in South Korea. (Click the graphic for a larger version.)
"We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending wars, of failing to resolve or prevent conflict," said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres in a statement. "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."
Most refugees hail from the world's worst war zones. Together, Afghans, Syrians, and Somalis make up more than half of the total number of refugees in the world. And with violence continuing in Syria, and perhaps only worsening, the total number of refugees in the world is unlikely to decrease in the near future.
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