The number of refugees and internally displaced people worldwide will likely reach a new record far beyond 60 million this year, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Friday in Geneva.
This means that one in every 122 humans is someone who has has been forced from their home.
“Forced displacement is now profoundly affecting our times,” said Antonio Guterres, the outgoing UN high commissioner for refugees.
“Never has there been a greater need for tolerance, compassion and solidarity with people who have lost everything,” he said.
At least 5 million people around the world fled across borders or became displaced within their countries between January and June, UNHCR said in its preliminary annual statistics that were based on data from the first half of the year.
Syria has remained as the biggest source of new refugees this year and the conflict there contributed to the new annual record.
Syria’s neighbour Turkey was the world’s biggest host, according to the refugee agency. It currently hosts 2.3 million Syrians.
In Lebanon, another country bordering Syria, one in five inhabitants is a refugee, making it the country with the biggest refugee population per capita.
The agency said it was worried that the number of refugees who returned home during the first half of 2015 was at the lowest level in 30 years, as falling return rates indicate high levels of conflict around the world.
Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister and peace negotiator, leaves office at the end of the year. He will be replaced by the Italian UN diplomat Filippo Grandi, who led the UN agency for Palestinian refugees until 2014.