Pakistan top host for Asian refugees

KARACHI - Despite the fact that Pakistan is passing through worst economic crisis nowadays, the country is hosting more than 2 million refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma and Nepal. Pakistan is the top refugee-hosting country in the world while other states include Iran, Germany and Jordan, said a research report, issued by foreign organisations on Friday on the eve of "World Refugees Day". The report said around 3 million refugees are living in Pakistan and Iran, mostly from Afghanistan. Similarly, around 2 million, refugees have settled in Syria and Jordan, mostly from Iraq, accounted for nearly half of all refugees under UNHCR's care worldwide in 2007, followed by Colombians 5,52,000 in a refugee-like situation, Sudanese 523,000 and Somalis 457,000. It says much of the increase in refugees in 2007 was the result of volatile situation in Iraq. The number of refugees worldwide increased by nearly 2 million last year, driving the total to nearly 14 million, the highest level since 2001, the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reported. The UNHCR said that rise was due in part to a continued exodus from Iraq, where 790,000 people left last year. Syria took in 449,000 and Jordan 250,000, the none-government refugees committee said. Some 80,000 went to Egypt, while the United States accepted 202 Iraqi refugees for resettlement. Historically, Afghanistan is the country that generated the most refugees and asylum seekers, 3,260,300, beginning in 1980, while Palestine generated almost as many, 3,036,400. Iraq was third, with 1,687,800. Though, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre IDMC, revealed that the global number of people affected by conflict-induced internal displacement increased from 24.4 million to 26 million. UNHCR currently provides protection or assistance directly or indirectly to 13.7 million of them - up from 12.8 million in 2006. The number of refugees and internally displaced people under UNHCR's care rose by 2.5 million in 2007, reaching an unprecedented 25.1 million by year's end. The statistics come from more than 150 countries. UNHCR report said that those refugees, who flee across international borders to escape persecution and conflict and internally displaced people (IDPs) who are forced from their homes but remain uprooted within their own countries. When it began work in 1951, UNHCR's mandate was limited to finding solutions for the world's refugees. In recent decades, however, it has also been tasked to work with other UN agencies to help the growing numbers of conflict-generated internally displaced. Among the internally displaced, the report cites up to 3 million people in Colombia (figure used by Constitutional Court); 2.4 million in Iraq; 1.3 million in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; 1.2 million in Uganda; and 1 million in Somalia. In all, it covers 13.7 million IDPs in 23 countries. Some 731,000 refugees were able to go home under voluntary repatriation programs in 2007, including to Afghanistan (374,000), Southern Sudan (130,700), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (60,000), Iraq (45,400) and Liberia (44,400). In addition, an estimated 2.1 million internally displaced people went home during the year. Refugee resettlement referrals to third countries increased substantially in 2007, with UNHCR submitting 99,000 individuals for consideration by governments - the highest number in 15 years and an 83 percent increase over the previous year. Even so, less than 1 percent of the world's refugees are resettled by third countries. By the end of the year, 75,300 refugees were admitted by 14 resettlement countries, including the United States (48,300), Canada (11,200), Australia (9,600), Sweden (1,800), Norway (1,100) and New Zealand (740). By nationality, the main beneficiaries of resettlement were refugees from Myanmar, Burundi, Somalia, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan. The year also saw a decline of some 3 million people who had been considered stateless, primarily as a result of new legislation in Nepal providing citizenship to approximately 2.6 million people, as well as changes in Bangladesh. It is estimated that there are some 12 million stateless people worldwide, but more data is needed.

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