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UN reports drop in refugees, increase in internally displaced people

[JURIST] The number of worldwide refugees reached its lowest number since 1980 [UNHCR press release] in 2005, but the overall number of internally displaced people in the world has increased dramatically, according to a report [text, PDF] released Friday by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website]. In 2005, 8.4 million people were counted as refugees, which is a drop from 9.5 million in 2004. However, the number of displaced people due to internal country conflicts increased from 5.4 million in 13 countries in 2004 to 6.6 million in 16 countries in 2005. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres [official profile] cited Darfur, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo [JURIST news archives] as countries with high displacement rates that must work to remedy the situation. UNHCR officials continue to attribute the decline in asylum seekers [Reuters report] to the imposition of tighter asylum restrictions in industrialized countries [JURIST report].

The UNHCR report counts 20.8 million people as the total population of concern in 2005, which includes refugees, internally displaced people, returned refugees, returned displaced individuals, asylum seekers, and stateless individuals. Five countries top the list of concern - Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Sudan, and Somalia. The Angola Press has more.

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