The U.N. refugee agency reported Tuesday that nearly 69 million people who have fled war, violence and persecution were forcibly displaced last year, a record for the fifth straight year. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said the continued crises in places like South Sudan and Congo, as well as the exodus of Muslim Rohingya from Myanmar that started last year, raised the overall figure of forced displacements in 2017 to 68.5 million.
Of that total, 16.2 million were newly displaced last year — an average of more than 44,000 people per day. Most have been displaced for longer than that, some forced to flee multiple times.
“The global figure has gone up again by a couple of million,” said the High Commissioner, Filippo Grandi. “This is because of protracted conflicts and lack of solutions for those conflicts that continue, continuous pressure on civilians in countries of conflict that pushed them to leave their homes and new or aggravating crises, like the Rohingya crisis.”
For the fourth year running, Turkey was again the country with the largest number of refugees — mostly Syrians — at 3.5 million at the end of 2017. The United States received the most new individual applications for asylum last year, at nearly 332,000. Germany was second at more than 198,000.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted on Wednesday that the United States has accepted more than 3.3 million refugees for permanent resettlement — more than any other country in the world — since 1975.
“The United States will continue to prioritize the admission of the most vulnerable refugees while upholding the safety and security of the American people,” he said in a statement.