A man passes graffiti in Sorocaba, Brazil, of the 3-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Greece, thrusting the global spotlight on the plight of refugees. His mother and 5-year-old brother also perished when their boat capsized. File picture: Paulo Whitaker

Johannesburg - One in every 113 people was affected by forced displacement in 2015. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said this was the highest level ever recorded, and represented immense human suffering.

As the globe marks World Refugee Day on Monday, the UNHCR released its global trends report for 2015 on Monday morning.

The report, which tracks forced displacement worldwide, is based on data collected from governments, partners including the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, and the organisation’s own reporting.

By the end of 2015, it was found that 65.3 million people had been displaced compared to 59.5 million 12 months earlier.

“This is the first time that the threshold of 60 million has been crossed,” the UNHCR said in a statement.

The figure comprises 3.2 million people in industrialised countries, who by the end of 2015, were awaiting decisions on asylum; with 21.3 million refugees worldwide; and 40.8 million people forced to flee their homes within the confines of their own countries.

This means that one in every 113 people globally is now either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee.

“More people are being displaced by war and persecution and that’s worrying in itself, but the factors that endanger refugees are multiplying too,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

“At sea, a frightening number of refugees and migrants are dying each year; on land people fleeing war are finding their way blocked by closed borders. Politics is gravitating against asylum in some countries.

“The willingness of nations to work together is what’s being tested today, and it’s this spirit of unity that badly needs to prevail,” he explained.

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