Around the World

Fleeing Their Homelands: Syria’s Refugees Reflect Global Crisis for the Forcibly Displaced

War, persecution, natural disasters. Throughout history, situations such as these have forced people to leave their homes and find shelter elsewhere. Today, 42 million people find themselves torn from their homes, many seeking refuge in other countries, sometimes permanently.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the agency that has provided worldwide assistance to displaced populations for more than six decades. When its executive committee met earlier this month, the agency's head, Antonio Guterres, said the refugee situation was exacerbated by simultaneous new emergencies around the world.

"Already in 2011, as crisis after crisis unfolded, more than 800,000 people crossed borders in search of refuge -- an average of more than 2,000 refugees every day. And this was higher than at any time in the last decade," he said.

The numbers are already more dire this year. The situation is most acute in the Middle East, in Syria. Since the uprising there began in March 2011, fierce conflicts have driven a million Syrians from their homes, forced to become refugees in their own homeland. Others have crossed borders and sought refuge in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. More than 300,000 Syrians are now registered refugees in those countries. By year's end, the UNHCR estimates the number will more than double to 700,000 refugees.

Several countries in Africa have also seen large-scale displacements. In Mali, Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than 700,000 people have fled to neighboring countries because of conflicts in their homelands.

The United States plays a critical role in aiding refugees. Not only is it the largest financial donor to the U.N. refugee agency, but the United States also welcomes more refugees to resettle permanently than all other countries. According to State Department figures, in fiscal 2011, more than 56,000 refugees from countries as diverse as Eritrea, Burma, Moldova and Iraq made America their new home.

This week Christiane Amanpour discusses the current refugee crises with Melissa Fleming. She is the spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Loading...
  • Gunmen attack Belgian head of African gorilla reserve
    Gunmen attack Belgian head of African gorilla reserve

    Goma (DR Congo) (AFP) - Unidentified armed men on Tuesday critically wounded the Belgian head of Africa's oldest wildlife reserve, the Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said. The victim, Emmanuel de Merode, "was shot in the chest," North Kivu provincial governor Julien Paluku told AFP, following the attack 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of the capital Goma. Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders tweeted his best wishes for De Merode's swift recovery, adding that "we are opening an enquiry", into the apparent ambush. Paluku said the attack happened as De Merode was driving himself, unescorted, from Goma towards the big ICCN (Congolese Institute for Conservation and Nature) centre in Rumangabo.

  • Syrian forces try seize rebel-held areas of Homs
    Syrian forces try seize rebel-held areas of Homs

    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian forces tried to seize rebel-held areas of Homs on Tuesday, with fighters weakened by defections and cut supply lines, in some of the fiercest fighting in the central city for months, activists said.

  • Crimeans find their new lives in Russia harder than expected

    A month on from their referendum to join Russia, Crimeans ought to be looking north to the mainland with some satisfaction. Kiev is mobilizing troops to oust them, raising the possibility that Russia will respond with military intervention. But for Crimeans, now safely ensconced in Russia's embrace, all is now good. Shopkeepers post prices in both Russian rubles and Ukrainian hryvnia, and have to resort to hand calculators to make change.

  • Why Putin’s Adventure in Ukraine Is Doomed
    Why Putin’s Adventure in Ukraine Is Doomed

    From Russian President Vladimir Putin’s perspective, the plan to annex parts of Ukraine probably goes something like this: take Crimea; “It is classic Russian foreign policy to try to destabilize a country before it completely takes it over,” said Edward Goldberg, a professor at Baruch College and the New York University Center for Global Affairs. “Russia has always considered Ukraine as a nation culturally and historically connected to it.” This plan had been unfolding just as Putin wanted--pro-Russia protestors have taken over government buildings in eastern Ukraine, while Russian troops wait at the border.

  • Volvo designs inflatable children's car seat
    Volvo designs inflatable children's car seat

    As parents know, children's car seats are usually bulky, heavy and awkward to carry around, to say the least. Volvo is aiming to change that with its latest creation: an inflatable rear-facing child safety seat that fits into a backpack. The seat can also be inflated by remote control, and at just 5kg, is much more portable than the average car seat. Lawrence Abele, Design Manager at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center in Los Angeles, was inspired by his own children when designing the product.

  • Team Hoyt to Run Last Boston Marathon
    Team Hoyt to Run Last Boston Marathon

    Father-and-Son Marathon Team to Run Final Boston Marathon

  • Huge Big Boy steam locomotive coming back to life
    Huge Big Boy steam locomotive coming back to life

    CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — In its prime, a massive steam locomotive known as Big Boy No. 4014 was a moving eruption of smoke and vapor, a 6,300-horsepower brute dragging heavy freight trains over the mountains of Wyoming and Utah.

  • Ex-Minnesota State, Mankato coach returning to job

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The football coach fired from Minnesota State, Mankato announced Tuesday that he will return to the job after an arbitrator ruled he was wrongfully terminated, saying the decision wasn't easy but that it would help him and his family heal.

Loading...