- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2018

For the first time since 2012, the United States was the world’s largest recipient of new individual asylum applications, part of a global surge despite a trend toward tighter border controls and stricter entry requirements by some of the world’s wealthiest nations, according to a new global survey released Tuesday.

The U.S. was the target of nearly 332,000 of the 1.7 million new asylum requests last year, more than 67 percent ahead of second-place Germany, according to the 2017 Global Report from the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The U.N. refugee agency reported that the number of refugees worldwide in 2017, displaced both internally and abroad, reached 68.5 million — larger than the population of either Britain or France. More than two-thirds of the total refugee population comes from five countries — Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Somalia — and three countries — Turkey, Uganda and Bangladesh — took in more than half of all the new refugees created last year.

Myanmar was a new entry to the list, a reflection of the humanitarian crisis that has displaced hundreds of thousands of minority Rohingya Muslims in the majority Buddhist country. U.N. officials say the statelessness of the Rohingya population represents a “textbook definition of ethnic cleansing.”

“Nowhere is the link between statelessness and displacement more evident than for the Rohingya community of Myanmar, for whom denial of citizenship is a key aspect of the entrenched discrimination and exclusion that have shaped their plight for decades,” said U.N. High Commissioner Filippo Grandi in October.

Bangladesh has opened its doors to the fleeing Rohingya people, but is now facing a population crisis in its southeastern region. The country saw one of the highest influxes of refugees in 2017, more than tripling to 932,000 refugees.

The UNHCR report found that developing regions hosted around 85 percent of the world’s refugees, while major countries with higher resources have not offered the same level of assistance.

“International responsibility-sharing for displaced people has utterly collapsed,” Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in response to the report. “Rich countries are building walls against families fleeing war, at the same time as less money is available for aid to people in conflict areas.”

In other news, key figures from the UNHCR report show that an average of 44,000 people were displaced each day in 2017, equating to 1 person displaced for every 110 people on the planet.

The number of refugees grew in 2017 despite the fact that some 5 million refugees were returned to their homes of countries of origin. Children under the age of 18 made up 52 percent of the global refugee population in 2017, up from 41 percent in 2009.

“The levels of new displacements in 2017 continued to far outstrip any returns or other solutions,” the U.N. report warned. “During the year, 16.2 million people were newly displaced, including 4.4 million who sought protection abroad and 11.8 million who were forced to flee but remained in their own countries.”

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