The UN Refugees Chief, Antonio Guterres, said on Thursday in Geneva that the world has entered a phase in which multiple crises have caused refugee numbers to soar to unprecedented levels.
Guterres said in his annual report that it was unfortunate that the international community could not work together to stop wars, build and preserve peace.
He said that another post-World-War-II record was set in 2014, as 59.5 million people were counted as refugees or as internally displaced people.
He said Syrians, Afghans and Somalians make up the biggest groups.
Guterres said the world was witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of forced displacement and the response required was now clearly dwarfing anything seen before.
“The equivalent of the population of metropolitan London, 13.9 million, became newly displaced as they fled wars, persecution or oppression during 2014.
The UN refugee agency chief said the figure was four times higher than what was recorded in 2010.
Guterres said that 15 conflicts had broken out or restarted in the past few years, including in the Central African Republic, Iraq, Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.
“In addition to people who fled in previous years and haven’t returned home, there were 38 million internally displaced people, nearly 20 million refugees and 1.8 million asylum seekers last year.
“More than half of the refugees are children,’’ he said.
Guterres said Turkey was the biggest refugee host country, as a result of the conflict in neighbouring Syria, followed by Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Ethiopia.
He said flowing `unprecedented’ mass displacement, there was urgent need for an unprecedented humanitarian response and a renewed global commitment to tolerance and protection for people fleeing conflict and persecution.