72.4 million forced to migrate from their homes worldwide
17 October, 2012
GENEVA: Political upheaval, violence, natural disasters and development projects have forced some 72.4 million people to migrate from their homes worldwide, the Red Cross said on Tuesday.
"This figure rises relentlessly every year, and most migrants are either in protracted displacement situations or permanently dispossessed," the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in its annual World Disasters Report.
The Geneva-based organisation said forced migration costs the international community around $8 billion a year.
While the world currently counts some 214 million cross-border migrants and 740 million migrants within the borders of their own countries, the IFRC said it had focused this year's report on the 72.4 million people, or one percent of the world population, who are forced to leave their homes by events beyond their control.
The IFRC report said conflicts in places such as Syria, Mali, the Horn of Africa and Libya had led to the displacement of around 26.4 million people within their own countries, in addition to the current 15 million refugees and one million asylum seekers tallied by the United Nations worldwide.
Some two million people fled their homes since the start of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2010, the report said, while the UN refugee agency recently put the number of Syrian refugees alone at over 300,000.
Natural disasters such as those in Haiti, Japan and Pakistan had meanwhile forced another 15 million people to flee, the report said, adding that at least another 15 million had been pushed from their homes by development projects.