Millions Remain Displaced, Says UN

June 20 marked World Refugee Day, an event that drew attention to the conditions of conflict and persecution victims.

At the end of 2008, the number of displaced people stood at 42 million amid prolonged wars and a slowdown in repatriation efforts, according to the latest annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released June 16. 

The number of refugees decreased by roughly 700,000 at the end of 2008, but UNHCR has observed an even greater increase in the first half of 2009.

Speaking after the report was released, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said substantial new displacement has taken place in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Somalia this year. Displacements continue in Somalia, Iraq, Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"While some displacements may be short-lived, others can take years and even decades to resolve," Guterres said.

"Each of these conflicts has also generated refugees who flee beyond their own borders," he added.

According to the UNHCR report, about 5.7 million refugees live "in limbo," having been displaced for more than five years with no hope of a solution to their situation in sight.

About the author

  • Tiziana Cauli

    Tiziana has contributed to Devex News since mid-2008, focusing mainly on Africa as well as the European donor landscape, especially those in Brussels, Rome and Barcelona. Tiziana has worked as a journalist for Reuters and the Associated Press in Johannesburg and at Reuters in Milan and Paris. She is fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish.