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60 Million People Displaced By World Conflicts, U.N. Refugee Agency Says


It's an incredible number. Nearly 60 million people in the world have been uprooted by war and persecution. That figure comes today from a new report by the United Nations Refugee Agency. And the U.N. says aid groups can't meet these staggering needs. Syria is the main driver of the refugee crisis, as outlined in that report. NPR's Michele Kelemen has more.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: When you look around the globe, there are crises everywhere - Syria, Iraq and Yemen, Burundi and South Sudan. And there are old conflicts that never seem to end, says Antonio Guterres, head of the U.N.'s Refugee Agency.

ANTONIO GUTERRES: This is a situation that is getting out of control. The world became a mess, and if people think that humanitarians can clean up the mess, they are wrong. We no longer have the capacity to pick up the pieces.

KELEMEN: In this video his office posted online, Guterres gave the bottom line.

GUTERRES: We have reached the highest number of people this displaced by conflict ever.

KELEMEN: At least since the U.N. Refugee Agency started counting more than half-a-century ago. The report says that if these nearly 60 million people were a nation, it would be the 24th largest in the world. Half of the refugees are children. There's been a 31 percent jump in refugees in Asia where Rohingya Muslims have been fleeing Myanmar only to become the victims of human traffickers. Between Syria and Iraq, some 15 million people have been uprooted. Turkey is now the biggest host country for refugees, followed by Pakistan and Lebanon. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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