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.

  • Dallas man arrested after ill-fated casket prank

    DALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas man suspected of stealing a casket to play a prank on his sister by making her think he had dug up their dead father was arrested after she called police, police said on Tuesday. Once Dallas police received the call from the sister who was concerned about what her brother had brought home, they linked the incident to a report of an assailant stealing an empty casket out of a hearse parked in the lot of Hughes Crown Hill Funeral Home, they said. ...

  • Bishop airs lessons learned by U.S. in Cup loss

    By Mark Lamport-Stokes LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As the dust settles over yet another Ryder Cup defeat for the United States, PGA of America president Ted Bishop says he would like to see a more "systematic approach" in selecting the U.S. captain for 2016. Bishop, who expressed "absolutely no regrets" over the appointment of the much maligned Tom Watson for last week's Cup showdown with Europe at Gleneagles in Scotland, is also in favor of a much later selection of the 2016 U.S. team. ...

  • Mexico: Alleged drug boss Beltran Leyva captured
    Mexico: Alleged drug boss Beltran Leyva captured

    MEXICO CITY (AP) — Military special forces grabbed alleged cartel leader Hector Beltran Leyva during a lightning raid at a restaurant Wednesday, the latest in a string of high-profile drug arrests in the country.

  • Ukraine rebels close in on Donetsk airport
    Ukraine rebels close in on Donetsk airport

    DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine advanced Wednesday on the government-held airport in Donetsk, pressing to seize the key transportation hub even as the two sides bargained over a troop pullout under a much-violated truce.

  • Girl missing for 12 years found with mom in Mexico
    Girl missing for 12 years found with mom in Mexico

    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas girl reported kidnapped 12 years ago was found near Mexico City with her mother after authorities received a tip, and the mother was quickly flown to Texas and jailed on kidnapping charges, investigators said Wednesday.

  • US sharply criticizes new Israeli housing project
    US sharply criticizes new Israeli housing project

    WASHINGTON (AP) — In a striking public rebuke, the Obama administration warned Israel on Wednesday that plans for a controversial new housing project in east Jerusalem would distance Israel from "even its closest allies" and raise questions about its commitment to seeking peace with Palestinians.


    DEAR ABBY: Last year I found a bottle of Valtrex in my husband's car. He had been taking the medicine for months. When I asked him about it, he lied. I was devastated when I realized I had been exposed to herpes. He actually tried to say he got it from me, but later he admitted that he had been stepping out with random women while working out of town. (He's a truck driver.) I had a blood test and thankfully I didn't catch it. What is the doctor's responsibility in informing the spouse? I'm sure my ex is going to sleep around and infect others. ...

  • The Perks of Retirement in Thailand and the Philippines

    Southeast Asia is a remarkably beautiful and diverse region that is becoming much more welcoming to Western retirees. Southeast Asia's big appeal for foreign retirees is the cost of living. Several countries here are among the world's cheapest places to retire. Your money goes much further in this part of the world than in the United States or any other Western country, but that does not mean that the standard of living is necessarily lower.