A record 16.2 million people were forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict or generalized violence in 2017. This is the highest number recorded by UN High Commissioner for Refugees. On average, 44,000 were displaced every day in 2017—about one person every two seconds.
The figure brings the total worldwide population of forcibly displaced people to a new high of 68.5 million, according to the UNHCR. That’s more than the population of France.
The agency’s report, issued ahead of today’s World Refugee Day (June 20), notes that the crises in South Sudan and Myanmar have significantly added to the increase, which was largely tied to deteriorating situations and enduring conflicts in countries around the globe. The vast majority of displaced people sought safety in neighboring countries: According to the report, 85% of refugees are in developing countries.
Turkey remained the world’s leading refugee hosting country in terms of absolute numbers, followed by Pakistan and Uganda. More than two-thirds of refugees originated from just five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Somalia.
Lebanon, where 1 in 6 people is a refugee, continued to host the largest number of refugees relative to its national population. Jordan (1 in 14) and Turkey (1 in 23) ranked second and third.
Overall, children aged 18 or under made up about half of the refugee population in 2017.
The US received the largest number of new claims for asylum, with 331,700 in 2017. In contrast, Germany saw a sharp decline in 2017. The European economic powerhouse received 198,300 new applications, a 73% drop from 2016. Italy received the third-largest number, with 126,500.