The number of refugees that crossed border to flee their homes hit an 11-year high last year, the United Nations refugee agency reported Monday, June 18.
More than 800,000 people worldwide became refugees last year by moving across international borders, a record number, reported the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The total number of refugees around the globe, including those displaced within their own countries and those actively seeking asylum, dipped slightly to 42.5 million from 43.7 million in 2010. The decline was caused due to a large number of those displaced within their own countries returning to their homes.
Afghanistan, where the U.S. has been at war for more than a decade, continues to be the top producer of refugees with 2.7 million. The UNHCR estimates that one out of four refugees originate from Afghanistan. About 95% of them reside in neighboring Pakistan and Iran.
Iraq, where the United States pulled out the last of its troops at the end of last year after an eight-year war, produced the second largest refugee population with 1.4 million.
Crises in Côte d'Ivoire, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan also impacted the refugee rate last year.
While the U.S. receives the most asylum requests among 44 industrialized nations, it is Germany that has ranked as the largest host country to refugees over the last four years, the report found.
The UNHCR warned in its report that refugees are likely to remain so for many years.