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UNHCR_LogoThe global forced displacement rose sharply in 2015 reaching the highest level ever, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a report released in Pretoria on Monday.

UNHCR recorded an average of 24 people displaced every minute. Back in 2005, the number was six each minute, Xinhua reported.

Conflict and persecution are the main causes of the upsurge trend, according to the annual Global Trends report which tracks forced displacement worldwide based on data from governments, partners and the organisation’s own reporting.

The report said 65.3 million people were displaced as of the end of 2015, compared to 59.5 million just 12 months earlier. This is the first time that the threshold of 60 million has been crossed.

The total of 65.3 million comprises 3.2 million people in industrialised countries who as of the end 2015 were awaiting decisions on asylum; 21.3 million refugees worldwide representing the highest level since the early 1990s; 40.8 million people who had been forced to flee their homes but were within the confines of their own countries — an increase of 2.6 million from 2014 and the highest number on record.

Measured against the world’s 7.349 billion population, these numbers mean that one in every 113 people globally is now either an asylum-seeker, an internally displaced person or a refugee, a level of risk without precedent, the report noted.

“At sea, a frightening number of refugees and migrants are dying each year; on land, people fleeing war are finding their way blocked by closed borders. Politics is gravitating against asylum in some countries. The willingness of nations to work together not just for refugees but for the collective human interest is what’s being tested today, and it’s this spirit of unity that badly needs to prevail,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Three countries — Syria (4.9 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million) and Somalia (1.1 million) — produce half the world’s refugees.

These three countries together accounted for more than half the refugees under UNHCR’s mandate worldwide, said the report.