iraqi-refugeesGlobal Refugees and Asylum Seekers Numbers Hits New High

The number of refugees world wide has hit a 19 year high according to a new UN report.

According to the latest statistics, more than 26 million people, including  10.4 million refugees and 15.6 million internally displaced persons – were receiving protection or assistance from UNHCR at the end of 2009. That figure had increased by 1 million since 2008. According to the UN, by the end of 2009, UNHCR had identified up to 6.6 million stateless persons across more than 60 countries.

Despite these figures, the UN now estimates that the overall number of stateless persons worldwide could be far higher, as much as  12 million people. According to the latest estimates, there are  approximately 16 million refugees world wide.

The issue of refugees and those seeking asylum, has intensified as conflicts in the Middle East and particularly Syria have driven many into exile.

The crisis in regards to Syrian refugees has increased rapidly from 270,000 people in 2012, to nearly two million people in 2013. The rapid pace in which refugees have fled the country has been characterized by the United Nations as the worst mass movement of refugees since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. There are also as many as 4.25 million Syrians who have been internally displaced within the country, bringing the total number of those who have been forced to relocate to more than six million.

The global increase in refugees has also brought the issue of asylum and refugee rights to the forefront in a number of developed countries. Australia and the European Union have come under fire as of late for their policies in regards to refugees who arrive by boat. Earlier this month two boats carrying more than 500 people capsized near Italy, killing those on board and sparking world wide outrage.