Kenya is the country hosting the fourth largest number of refugees in the world, behind Pakistan, Iran and Germany, according to the UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report.
Pakistan, with 1.6 million refugees led the pack, followed by Iran (868,200), Germany (589,700) and Kenya (565,000).
According to the report, war remains the dominant cause of displacement of people. Fifty-five per cent of all refugees listed in the UNHCR report come from just five war-affected countries: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan.
Somalia was the world’s second largest refugee-producing nation in 2012, while Afghanistan remained the world’s top producer of refugees — a position it has held for 32 years.
The report came out just days after the Kenya and Somalia governments signed an agreement for the voluntary repatriation of about half a million Somali refugees living in Kenya, particularly in the Daadab and Ifo camps in the north.
The report says ongoing violence and drought in southern and central Somalia continued to force large numbers of people to flee. In 2012, 75,000 Somalis sought refuge abroad, mainly in Ethiopia (35,800), Yemen (22,300), and Kenya (13,800).
Between 2007 and 2011, more than half a million Somalis arrived in Ethiopia and Kenya as a result of conflict and violence combined with drought and famine.
The report says that there are more refugees or internally displaced people in the world than at any time since 1994, with the crisis in Syria having emerged as a major new factor in global displacement.
“Kenya still has the highest number of refugee camps in the world, with the top four collectively known as the Dadaab camps, hosting together about half a million refugees,” says the report.
“Nyaragusu camp in Tanzania was the fifth largest camp in 2012 – hosting 68,100 refugees, mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” it adds.
Other main source countries of refugees were the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, and Colombia
The number of Congolese refugees increased for the fifth consecutive year, reaching an all-time high by year-end (509,400).
In 2012, there was an outflow of tens of thousands of Congolese into Uganda (40,200), Rwanda (17,000), and Burundi (8,200).
Of Rwandan refugees, some 11,200 returned home in 2012, with local integration under way in some host countries.
“Some governments in the region have agreed to pursue feasible local integration opportunities for Rwandan refugees, including citizenship through naturalisation,” noted the report.
The report also cites major new displacement from Mali, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and from Sudan into South Sudan and Ethiopia.
“These, truly, are alarming numbers. They reflect individual suffering on a huge scale and they reflect the difficulties of the international community in preventing conflicts and promoting timely solutions for them,” said António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Overall, an estimated 7.6 million people were newly displaced due to conflict or persecution, including 1.1 million new refugees — the highest number of new arrivals in one year since 1999.
Another 6.5 million people were newly displaced within the borders of their countries — the second highest figure of the past 10 years.
Developing countries hosted over 80 per cent of the world’s refugees, compared with 70 per cent 10 years ago. The 49 least developed countries were providing asylum to 2.4 million refugees by year-end.
Refugee women and girls accounted for 48 per cent of the refugee population in 2012, a proportion that has remained constant over the past decade.
Children below 18 years constituted 46 per cent of the refugee population in 2012.