India Home to 200,000 Refugees in First Half of 2014: UNHCR

Yoshita Singh/United Nations
India Home to 200,000 Refugees in First Half of 2014: UNHCR

India was home to over 200,000 refugees in the first six months of 2014, a period that saw over 5.5 million people displaced worldwide mainly due to war and violence across large swathes of the Middle East and Africa.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in its new Mid-Year Trends 2014 report said of the 5.5 million who were newly displaced, 1.4 million fled across international borders becoming refugees, while the rest were displaced within their own countries.

The new data brings the number of people being helped by the UNHCR to 46.3 million as of mid-2014 -– about 3.4 million more than at the end of 2013 and a new record high.

India was home to 198,665 refugees as of June 2014 and had 4,718 pending cases of asylum seekers, bringing the total population of concern to 203,383.

"In 2014, we have seen the number of people under our care grow to unprecedented levels. As long as the international community continues to fail to find political solutions to existing conflicts and to prevent new ones from starting, we will continue to have to deal with the dramatic humanitarian consequences," said UNHCR head Antonio Guterres.

"The economic, social and human cost of caring for refugees and the internally displaced is being borne mostly by poor communities, those who are least able to afford it," said Guterres in a statement.

Guterres added that enhanced international solidarity is a must to avoid the risk of more and more vulnerable people being left without proper support.

Among the report's main findings were that Syrians, for the first time, have become the largest refugee population under UNHCR's mandate, overtaking Afghans, who had held that position for more than three decades.

As of June 2014, the three million Syrian refugees now account for 23 per cent of all refugees being helped by UNHCR worldwide.

Despite dropping to second place, the 2.7-million Afghan refugees remain the largest protracted refugee population under UNHCR care.

Following that, the leading countries of origin of refugees were Somalia (1.1 million), Sudan (670,000), South Sudan (509,000), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (493,000), Myanmar (480,000) and Iraq (426,000).

Pakistan, which hosts 1.6 million Afghan refugees, remains the biggest host country in absolute terms.

Relative to the sizes of their economies the burdens carried by Ethiopia and Pakistan are greatest.

Other countries with large refugee populations were Lebanon (1.1 million), Iran (982,000), Turkey (824,000), Jordan (737,000), Ethiopia (588,000), Kenya (537,000) and Chad (455,000).

Another major finding in the report is the shift in the regional distribution of refugee populations from Asia and the Pacific and now as a result of the crisis in Syria, the Middle East and North Africa.

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