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World Facing Worst Refugee Crisis Since 1994, Report Says; Obama Pledges More Aid For Syria

“The world is in the throes of its most serious refugee crisis for almost 20 years, as conflicts in Syria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali have forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, the U.N.’s refugee agency has said,” The Guardian reports (Tran, 6/19). According to the UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report, “as of the end of 2012, more than 45.2 million people were in situations of displacement compared to 42.5 million at the end of 2011,” and that number “includes 15.4 million refugees, 937,000 asylum seekers, and 28.8 million people forced to flee within the borders of their own countries,” a UNHCR press release states, noting, “The report does not include the rise in those forced from their homes in Syria during the current year” (6/19). “Those are the highest numbers since 1994, when people fled genocide in Rwanda and bloodshed in former Yugoslavia,” the Associated Press/Washington Post adds (6/19).

“The report says war is the main reason for displacement with more than 55 percent of all refugees coming from five war-affected countries — Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan,” VOA News writes (6/19). “Earlier this month, the United Nations and partner agencies began an appeal for $4.4 billion, the largest in history, for urgent humanitarian aid to help Syrians,” the New York Times notes. “President Obama announced during his meeting with [G8] leaders on Monday that his administration would give an additional $300 million in humanitarian assistance to help feed, shelter and provide medical care for Syrians,” the newspaper writes, adding, “The United States remains the single largest contributor of humanitarian aid for the Syrian people, with the promise of the new assistance bringing the total United States commitment for the Syrian crisis to nearly $815 million” (Banco, 6/18). The Guardian’s “DataBlog” breaks down the statistics of the report (Sedghi, 6/19).