UN says number refugees, displaced at 18-year high

Associated Press
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Afghan refugee children, swim in muddy water created from a broken water pipe, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, June 17, 2013. Pakistan hosts over 1.6 million registered Afghans, the largest and most protracted refugee population in the world, according to the U.N. refugee agency. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency says more than 45.2 million people were forced to flee homes last year, an 18-year high mainly due to wars in Syria, Afghanistan and other countries.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says globally as of the end of 2012 there were 15.4 million refugees, 937,000 asylum seekers and 28.8 million people who fled homes but stayed within their nation's borders.

UNCHR reported Wednesday the Syrian civil war was a major factor in the 6 percent increase over 42.5 million people displaced in 2011.

It says 55 percent of the refugees today come from five war-affected countries — Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.

The numbers are the highest since 1994, when people fled genocide in Rwanda and bloodshed in former Yugoslavia.