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African focus: Africa hosts world's most refugees: UN report

CAPE TOWN, June 20 (Xinhua) -- Developing countries, including many in Africa, now host 86 percent of the worlds refugees, up from 70 percent 10 years ago, says a new report released by the UN refugee agency on Friday.

Sub-Saharan Africa hosts one-quarter of all refugees in the world, according to the report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The UNHCR report shows that the number of refugees, asylum- seekers, and internally displaced people worldwide has topped 50 million for the first time since World War II.

According to the UNHCR's annual Global Trends report, 51.2 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2013, six million more than the 45.2 million reported in 2012.

The report is based on data compiled by governments, nongovernmental partner organizations, and from the organization's own records.

This massive increase was driven mainly by the war in Syria, which at the end of last year had forced 2.5 million people to leave the country and made 6.5 million internally displaced. Major new displacement was also seen in Africa, says the report.

"We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending wars, of failing to resolve or prevent conflict," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

"Peace is today dangerously in deficit. Humanitarians can help as a palliative, but political solutions are vitally needed. Without this, the alarming levels of conflict and the mass suffering that is reflected in these figures will continue."

The worldwide total of 51.2 million forcibly displaced represents a huge number of people in need of help, with implications both for foreign aid budgets in the world's donor nations and the absorption and hosting capacities of countries on the front lines of refugee crises.

"The international community has to overcome its differences and find solutions to the conflicts of today in South Sudan, Syria, Central African Republic and elsewhere," Guterres said. "Nontraditional donors need to step up alongside traditional donors. As many people are forcibly displaced today as the entire populations of medium-to-large countries such as Colombia or Spain, South Africa or South Korea."

Displacement data in the Global Trends report covers three groups – refugees, asylum-seekers, and the internally displaced. Among these, refugee numbers amounted to 16.7 million people worldwide, 11.7 million of whom are under UNHCR's care and the remainder registered with its sister organizations, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine. Of these, 2.9 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa, coming primarily from Somalia (778,400), Sudan (605,400), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (470,300), the Central African Republic (251,900), and Eritrea (198,700).

These figures were compiled before fighting in South Sudan at the end of last year which caused some 1.4 million people to flee, both inside the country (1,040,706) and to neighboring countries (367,260 as of June).

At the end of 2013, three African countries were among the top 10 refugee-hosting countries in the world – Kenya (534,900 refugees), Chad (434,000) and Ethiopia (433,900). Pakistan tops the list, with 1.6 million refugees, primarily from Afghanistan.

In 2013, Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Eritrea were among the top 10 refugee-producing countries. Overall, the biggest refugee populations under UNHCR care come from Afghanistan and Syria, with refugees from Somalia in third place.

By region, Asia and the Pacific had the largest refugee population overall at 3.5 million people. Sub-Saharan Africa had 2. 9 million people, while the Middle East and North Africa had 2.6 million.

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