"The numbers are astounding. 37,000 displaced people are camping in an area of just five hectares reports Maurice Azonnankpo, a UNHCR protection officer in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic."
As many as 5,000 refugees per day are expected to travel through Turkey to Europe over the next several months, says William Spindler, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. That could mean 600,000 additional refugees from now to February. Donor states need to be flexible about aid distribution, the UNHCR said.
More than 5.9 million people became internally displaced or refugees during the first six months of 2013, says the United Nations refugee agency. UNHCR expects 2013's total to exceed the 7.6 million refugees recorded in 2012. Syrians account for 80% of this year's refugees, UNHCR says.
Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, says she is shocked by the "outright disregard for basic human rights" in Syria, where security forces loyal to the regime of Bashar al-Assad are said to have killed at least 15 people in the latest crackdown on anti-government protests. Pillay is stepping up pressure on Syria to permit access to a UN fact-finding mission.
Created 60 years ago as a short-term agency to deal with post-World War II displacement issues in Europe, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has become a powerful symbol of the importance and efficacy of multinational efforts to address difficult humanitarian situations. While some critics charge the UNHCR is plagued by too much bureaucracy, supporters argue its work makes a significant contribution to global security and stability.
The security situation in Iraq is not yet stable enough for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to endorse the notion that Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries should return home, commissioner Antonio Guterres said Thursday. Many Iraqis have been eager to return home as they face problems in exile such as being unable to work or to send their children to school.