UNHCR Reports Drop In Refugee Population

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- The UN refugee agency reported Wednesday that there has been a significant drop in the number of people under its concern worldwide.
The world refugee population presently stands at 21.
1 million or one out of every 284 persons, according to provisional figures released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
On 1 January 2000 there were 22.
3 million refugees around the world.
At an estimated total of 3.
6 million refugees or 30 percent of the global figure, Afghans constitute the largest single refugee population in the world.
Civilians from the central African state of Burundi constitute the second largest group, with 567,000 refugees living mainly in Tanzania.
Iraqis comprise the third largest group of 497,400 refugees living mainly in Iran.
According to the UNHCR report released by the United Nations Office in Nairobi, Asia has the largest number of persons "of concern", with nearly 8.
5 million refugees, followed by Europe with 5.
6 million and Africa with 5.
3 million.
The largest refugee population increase was in Pakistan where the number of Afghan refugees rose by an estimated 800,000 persons, including civilians living outside established camps.
The main refugee hosting countries remain unchanged with Pakistan sheltering two million persons, Iran 1.
9 million and Germany 900,000.
In addition to bona fide refugees, UNHCR cares for other groups, particulary internally displaced persons.
The agency assisted some 5.
6 million civilians in this category out of a global population of between 20-25 million and during 2000.
UNHCR assisted newly displaced populations in Colombia, Eritrea and Angola totalling nearly 1.
2 million people.
Other major concentrations of internally displaced persons were in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bosnia-Herzegovina, countries of the former Soviet Union and in various African states.
The overall decrease of slightly more than one million people "of concern" to UNHCR was largely the result of a change in the counting method, the report explains.
Until the last reporting period, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons going home, so-called 'returnees', was counted over a two-year time span because of the lengthy time it often takes civilians to resettle.
Current statistics reflect the number of persons going home during a 12-month period.
Internally displaced persons, according to the UNHCR, have increased significantly in the recent past and were now the second largest group of concern to the UN body.

16 may 2001 10:37:00

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