Geneva — The latest report by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) places Sudan fifth on the list of "source countries" for refugees.
Timed to coincide with World Refugee Day on 20 June, the UNHCR's 2012 Global Trends report analyses statistical trends and changes from January to December 2012. It examines "populations for whom the UNHCR has been entrusted with a responsibility by the international community," which include refugees, asylum-seekers, returnees, stateless persons and certain groups of internally displaced persons. The Commission refers to these "persons of concern" collectively includes an estimated 35.8 million people.
"These truly are alarming numbers," says UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres. "They reflect individual suffering on a huge scale and they reflect the difficulties of the international community in preventing conflicts and promoting timely solutions for them."
According to the report, worldwide in 2012, 7.6 million people were newly displaced, with 1.1 million becoming refugees. The total number is now "higher than at any time since 1994". The report also states that 55 per cent of all refugees worldwide come from five countries, namely Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan. It acknowledges that the figure of 569,200 from Sudan "may include citizens of South Sudan in absence of separate statistics for both countries".
However the report's title, Displacement, the New 21st Century Challenge, refers to the caution that "during 2012, conflict and persecution forced an average of 23,000 persons per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere, either within the borders of their countries or in other countries". It also highlights the challenges presented by the fact that 81 per cent of refugees now live in developing countries.
While it does not mention any Sudanese states specifically, the report acknowledges estimates by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) that in Sudan, the total number of displaced persons is around five million; however the UNHCR has only been able to assist about 1.8 million of these.
The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide (including people in IDP-like situations,) who benefited from the UNHCR's protection and assistance activities stood at almost 17.7 million at the end of 2012. This was the highest figure on record, and 2.2 million more than at the start of the year (15.5 million), the report states.