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Largest ever number of refugees worldwide is challenge to humankind

January 15, 2015, 18:39 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees

© AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

MOSCOW, January 15. /TASS/. An unprecedented number of full-scale crises has resulted in the largest-ever number of refugees worldwide, the deputy chief of the UNHCR Office in Russia, Melita Hummel-Sunjic, has told TASS in an interview.

At the beginning of January 2015, the United Nations said that in the middle of last year, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees registered 46.3 million people who had been forced to abandon their homes. The figure showed a 3.4-million increase since the end of 2013. The UNHCR Office’s full report for last year is expected shortly.

“The world has never witnessed so many full-scale crises as it is experiencing today. The war in Syria alone has resulted in the tragedy of ten million people, who have been granted the status of refugees or displaced persons. Afghanistan, with its continuing clashes between the Taliban and government troops, the expansion of the Islamic State in the territory of Iraq, which I visited personally, and a number of African countries where bloody clashes erupt now and then — all are zones of crises where millions of people keep suffering and dying,” Hummel-Sunjic said.

According to the UNCHR Office’s report, Afghanistan holds second place after Syria by the number of refugees (2.7 million). Somalia is third (1.1 million), Sudan, fourth (670,000), South Sudan, fifth (509,000), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sixth (493,000), Myanmar, seventh (480,000), and Iraq, eighth (426,000).

As long as the international community will be unable to identify a political solution of the existing conflicts or to prevent new ones, we will have to deal with dramatic humanitarian effects. As we analyze the record-high statistics of those in distress, we, UNHCR Office staff, believe that the donor countries will be unable to provide the amount of money required for assistance to nearly 50 million people (this is a preliminary figure),” Hummel-Sunjic said.

According to UNCHR statistics, Russia as at December 9, had 809,542 Ukrainian refugees, which agrees with a report available from Russia’s Federal Migration Service.

“Our mission’s personnel have visited tens of cities and other localities in Russia that have accommodated Ukrainian refugees. In contrast to their counterparts from other countries — those from Africa and Central Asia — the Ukrainian refugees in Russia are in a privileged position,” Hummel-Sunjic said.

Asked why the UNHCR’s report contained no mention of Ukrainian refugees in Russia, she replied:“The report provided statistics only for those countries which are under the tutelage of the United Nations. When the UNCHR Office addressed the Russian authorities with an offer of help, the reply was that the problem of Ukrainian refugees would be dealt with independently.”

“The average annual sum of relief aid for refugees that had been raised every year before 2014 stood at approximately $3 billion. Now we shall need far more funds. The year has just begun and we at the UNCHR office still have no idea of what our budget in 2015 will be like,” Hummel-Sunjic said.

Europe’s cumulative contribution to the UNCHR Office’s budget is greater than that of the United States.

“What makes the UNCHR Office budget situation so special is the United States starts wars in the Middle and Near East, while the Europeans then have to pay the costs. There are two rich Arab countries responsible for conflicts in the neighboring states — Saudi Arabia and Qatar. But these don’t spend a dime to help refugees,” the president of the Middle East Institute, Yevgeny Satanovsky, told TASS.

“The United States and their NATO allies have been trying to establish democracy in Iraq, where they killed Saddam Hussein, in Libya, where they killed its leader Muamar Gaddafi, and in Syria, where they are fighting with the Bashar Assad regime. But how come the democratic system Washington has been trying to plant everywhere has turned nearly 50 million people into refugees in just one year?” Satanovsky asked.

“The western policies in the Middle and Near East abuse all conceivable norms of morality and challenge humanity,” he concluded.

TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors