A total 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of 2015, compared to 59.5 million just 12 months earlier.
Measured against the world’s population of 7.4 billion people, one in every 113 people globally is now either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee. To put it in perspective, the tally is greater than the population of the United Kingdom – or of Canada, Australia and New Zealand combined.
3.2 million people in industrialized countries who, at the end of 2015, were awaiting decisions on asylum – the largest total UNHCR has ever recorded.
Three countries produce half the world’s refugees. Syria at 4.9 million, Afghanistan at 2.7 million and Somalia at 1.1 million.
Colombia at 6.9 million, Syria at 6.6 million and Iraq at 4.4 million had the largest numbers of internally displaced people.
Turkey was the biggest host country, with 2.5 million refugees. With nearly one refugee for every five citizens, Lebanon hosted more refugees compared to its population than any other country. Greece hosts more than 62,000, more than 14,000 stuck on five tiny islands.
Children made up an astonishing 51 per cent of the world’s refugees in 2015, many separated from their parents and traveling alone.
Nasim Lomani, an activist with the Solidarity Initiative for Political and Economic Refugees, argues that isolating refugees and migrants in camps outside of city centres has been counterproductive. They [Greek authorities] managed to make them feel like they are not humans any more," he says. "One of the biggest impacts of the EU-Turkey deal is the mental war on the refugees."
It has taken its toll on camp residents. According to local media reports and humanitarian groups, there has been a rise in the number of asylum seekers committing and attempting suicide.
Lucy Carrigan, the regional coordinator of communications at the International Rescue Committee, says there is a dire need for improved mental health programmes in Greece's camps. "Refugees in Greece have zero control over their lives," she says. "The process is dehumanising. These people came to Europe full of hope. They had high expectations. Now they are foundering." She continues, "If we want to see the number of cases of attempted suicides, suicide and self-harm go down, we need to see a dramatic improvement in the resources necessary to move these refugees' asylum claims through so that they have some resolution and they can regain control over their lives."