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Ranks of World’s Refugees Swell as Asylum Space Shrinks: UN

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More than 2 million people fleeing wars or persecution have joined the ranks of the world’s refugees this year, but often face more restrictive asylum policies, including in Europe and the United States, the top United Nations refugee official recently said. They include 650,000 from South Sudan and 500,000 Muslim Rohingyas who have escaped violence in Myanmar for Bangladesh over the past five weeks. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi said, “So far in 2017, more than 2 million people have fled their countries as refugees,” Grandi told the UNHCR Executive Committee. “They often arrive sick, traumatized and hungry, in remote border locations, in communities affected by poverty and underdevelopment. Many have urgent protection needs – children separated from their families, men, women, girls and boys exposed to sexual and gender-based violence,” he said. At the end of last year, 17.2 million refugees fell under UNHCR’s mandate, but some of them have returned and others have been resettled, and there is no updated total. An additional 5 million Palestinian refugees are cared for by UNRWA. Grandi said, nearly 1.2 million refugees need resettling globally to third countries. “It is an issue of major concern that fewer than 100,000 resettlement places are expected to be available this year ““ a drop of 43 per cent from 2016,” he said.