Burmese Nationals Form 8th-Largest Refugee Group

By The Irrawaddy 21 June 2016

RANGOON — Burmese nationals make up the eighth largest group of refugees in the world, according to a report by the UN refugee agency, released on Monday commemorating World Refugee Day.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that Burma displaced 451,800 people as of the end of 2015 a slight decline compared to the previous year’s 479,000, due to resettlement from Malaysia in 2015. The figure includes some 120,000 Burmese refugees in Thailand’s nine official camps on its border who were displaced by armed conflicts, but not an additional 450,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), particularly concentrated in Kachin and Shan States.

According to the report, Syria ranks number one as the largest refugee source country, displacing 4.9 million people and Afghanistan came in second with 2.7 million refugees. Turkey became the biggest host country with 2.5 million refugees.

UNHCR’s “Global Trends” report documented forced displacement worldwide based on data from governments, its partner agencies and its own reporting and found that a total 65.3 million people, more than half of which were children, were displaced as of the end of 2015, compared to 59.5 million in 2014. One in 113 people on earth are displaced, refugees or asylum-seekers.

UNHCR’s Monday statement mentioned that 24 people were forced to flee each minute in 2015 on average.

“At sea, a frightening number of refugees and migrants are dying each year,” UNHCR’s Filippo Grandi said in the report. “On land, people fleeing war are finding their way blocked by closed borders. Closing borders does not solve the problem.”

The report specified that 21.3 million were identified as refugees with 3.2 million asylum-seekers and 40.8 million IDPs.

Correction: It was originally reported that the UNHCR figure of 451,800 refugees included Burma’s IDPs. It does not. The IDP population also totals more than 450,000 people by itself.