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UN warns of more refugees in next 10 years

(Xinhua)

08:57, June 01, 2012

UNITED NATIONS, May 31 (Xinhua) -- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres warned on Thursday that the factors causing massive displacement are growing and that there will likely be more and more refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the coming 10 years.

Guterres made the statement here during the launch of the latest edition of the UN refugee agency flagship book, "The State of the World's Refugees: In Search of Solidarity." This is the first new edition of the book to be published since 2006.

Displacement from conflict is compounded by causes such as climate change, population growth, urbanization, food insecurity, water scarcity and resource competition, he said.

All these factors are interacting with each other, increasing instability and conflict and forcing people to move, said Guterres, who calls for determined international political will.

"The world is creating displacement faster than it is producing solutions," Guterres said at the press conference to launch the new book. "And this means one thing only: More people trapped in exile over many years, unable to return home, to settle locally, or to move elsewhere."

According to Guterres, last year witnessed the highest number of new refugees emerging in the last decades.

Today, most of the world's 43 million forced to flee their homes are not refugees but people who are displaced within their own countries, UNHCR said.

The book also presents internal displacement as a particularly large problem. It states that the majority of those forced to flee their homes are IDPs. Some 26 million people are currently in the IDP category around the world.

A solution to the humanitarian crisis is not to be solved by other humanitarian organizations, but by political means, said Guterres, adding "asylum seekers are entitled to the same rights as refugees" when it comes to providing aid.

"What we would like is much more efforts in prevention, allowing for the numbers of refugees to meaningfully decrease," he said.

In countries such as Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen or Iraq, getting help to internally displaced populations means working in environments where access is difficult and conflict or criminality can present deadly risk, UNHCR said.

"The space for humanitarian intervention is shrinking exactly when the need for humanitarian help is increasing," said Guerres said. "Pressures on the international protection system are clearly growing."

"In some industrialized countries in particular, we see fortress mentalities that serve only to shift responsibility and compassion elsewhere," he said. "In a world where societies are becoming multi-cultural and multi-ethnic, it is essential to promote the values of tolerance and to fight the manifestation of xenophobia."

Eighty percent of today's refugees live in the developing world, and greater international solidarity is needed to address this challenge, said the new book.

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