This past June, in the lead up to World Refugee Day, UNHCR released its annual Global Trends on Forced Displacement summarizing available data on refugees, people in refugee-like situations, asylum-seekers, internally displaced, stateless and other persons of concern. According to the report, a total of 68.5 million individuals were forcibly displaced at the end of 2017, nearly 3 million more than the previous year, comprising the sixth consecutive annual increase in the number of persons forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict or generalized violence. With the number of internally displaced persons slightly smaller than 2016, the increase in forced displacement around the world was due largely to a growth in the number of refugees, in particular, those from Myanmar, South Sudan and Syria.
Refugees comprised over a third (25.4 million) of forcibly displaced persons, an increase of 2.7 million over the previous year. The refugee population in Global Trends includes 5.4 million Palestinians registered with UNRWA, the United Nations’ other refugee agency. In other words, just over a fifth of the world’s refugees in 2017 originated from that part of Mandate Palestine that became the state of Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Registered Palestinian refugees were the second largest refugee population, smaller in number than the 6.3 million refugees from Syria, but significantly larger than refugees from Afghanistan (2.6 million), South Sudan (2.3 million), Myanmar (1.2 million) and Somalia (986,400).
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