Turmoil Forced 800,000 People to Cross Borders in 2011

2011 saw suffering on an epic scale as record of 800,000 people were forced to flee across borders due to turmoil and crises last year, according to UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

UNHCR reports that the new refugees are part of a total of 4.3 million people who were newly displaced last year, due to a string of major humanitarian crises that began in late 2010 in Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, Somalia, Sudan.

The new record is reportedly more than at any time since since the new millennium began.

“2011 saw suffering on an epic scale. For so many lives to have been thrown into turmoil over so short a space of time means enormous personal cost for all who were affected.” – UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres

Portrait of an Afghani child at Roghani Refugee Camp in Chaman, a Pakistani border town. Children and young people make up a large percentage of the population at Roghani Refugee camp.

UN Photo/Luke Powell

UNHCR reports that 42.5 million people ended 2011 either as refugees (15.2 million), internally displaced (26.4 million) or in the process of seeking asylum (895,000).

In addition, the number of people displaced worldwide in 2011 dropped as millions of people returned to their homes, the agency said.

UNHCR revealed that forced displacement is affecting larger numbers of people globally as well.

Overall, Afghanistan remains the biggest producer of refugees (2.7 million) followed by Iraq (1.4 million), Somalia (1.1 million), Sudan (500,000) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (491,000).

World Refugee Day falls on 20 June, Wednesday. The theme for this year’s observance is “Refugees have no choice. You do.”

On April this year, to response to the growing humanitarian needs of the refugees around the world, the United States announced a second contribution of $482.05 million toward the 2012 operations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The US initial contribution of $125 million was announced on December 29, 2011 toward emergency appeals this fiscal year for vulnerable populations from Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, and Mali.

These contributions are funded through the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and help advance UNHCR initiatives worldwide.

U.S. funding supports refugee returns to countries such as Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo; local integration and resettlement; and protection and life-saving assistance.

U.S. funding also supports the provision of water, shelter, food, healthcare, and education to refugees, internally displaced persons, and other persons under UNHCR’s care and protection in countries such as Iraq, Yemen, Nepal, Pakistan, Georgia, South Sudan, Chad, and Kenya.

In 2011, the US contributed more than $690 million to UNHCR through multiple tranches, a figure which included funding for on-going operations as well as special appeals for emergencies.

In April 2011, the United States announced a contribution of $126.8 million toward the 2011 operations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

For the United States, protection of refugees, IDPs, stateless persons, and other populations of concern is always part of its diplomatic and humanitarian agenda, even with nations with whom it may have disagreements on other issues.

The international community created UNHCR and IOM to address the needs of thousands of displaced Europeans after World War II. UNHCR’s mandate has grown, with the organization now helping 33.9 million people of concern in 123 countries. With more than 2,900 programs in over 400 locations worldwide, IOM provides humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, as well as advice and expertise to governments to promote humane and orderly migration.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.