By the end of 2015, 65.3 million people, or one in every 113 people in the world, were displaced by conflict, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Since 2014, the number of refugees has gone up by a staggering five million. Of these, around 12.4 million people have been displaced in 2015 alone. The refugee agency estimates that half of those displaced are below the age of 18, The Independent reported.
In its annual report released on World Refugee Day on Monday, the UN agency said that it was the first time in history that there are more than 60 million refugees seeking shelter. The last time such a large number of people were displaced from their homes was during World War II.
Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia currently account for more than 54% of the displaced population. The agency said that a "climate of xenophobia" is prevailing in Europe as displaced people come to its borders looking to get away from war or terror back home.
Even though European countries have often voiced their limitations, both political and in terms of infrastructure, to resettle the refugees, the agency observed that around 86% of the displaced population is being hosted in economically lesser countries. Turkey, for instance, has taken in the maximum number of the distraught people fleeing their country.
"Those who do the opposite, who stir up public opinion against refugees and migrants, have a responsibility in creating a climate of xenophobia that is very worrying in today's Europe," believes Filippo Grandi, the UN agency chief. He also appealed to countries to fight the anti-foreigner hatred that has accompanied the rise in refugee populations, while decrying physical barriers, like fences erected by some European countries, as well as legislative ones that have limited access to richer, more peaceful European Union countries.