More than 50 million refugees for the first time since WWll [Photos]
June 23, 2014 by Peter Biro
There are now 51.2 million refugees and displaced people across the world, more than at any time since the Second World War. Most are struggling to get by in crowded camps, dilapidated apartments and improvised shelters exposed to the elements. The International Rescue Committee’s Peter Biro shares some of his photos of uprooted people:
The sun rises over the main street in Domiz refugee camp, northern Iraq, home to over 40,000 refugees from Syria. Since the civil war broke out in 2011, Syria has been the world’s largest refugee crisis with over 2.8 million refugees in neighboring countries.
The majority of Syrian refugees don’t live in camps, but in towns and cities across the Middle East. They are often forced to live in squalid conditions, without access to humanitarian aid. These children live with their family in one small, cold room in the Lebanese town of Bebnine.
Around 6.5 million people are displaced within Syria, like this family living in a crude shelter in Idlib Governorate in the northern part of the county.
Sectarian violence in the Central African Republic has forced an estimated one million people from their homes. Some 60,000 of them have sought shelter at M’Poko, the capital Bangui’s international airport.
Around 2.5 million people—more than half the country’s population—are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in Central African Republic, already one of the world's poorest countries.
2014 also saw renewed fighting in South Sudan. More than a million people have been displaced by fighting sparked by a political rivalry between South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, and Riek Machar, the former vice president.
The South Sudan war has left 3.7 million facing starvation. Water-borne diseases are rampant, like in the cramped and unsanitary Tomping camp for displaced people in the capital Juba.
Despite an uneasy peace and political changes in Somalia, more than 2 million Somalis remain displaced, fleeing fighting and hunger. Nearly one million live in neighboring countries and 1.1 million are internally displaced, like this elderly man living in a war-damaged building in the capital Mogadishu.
Ongoing fighting between rebels and government troops continues to force people from their homes in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nearly 3 million people live in squalid camps or in the bush.
After over a quarter-century, refugees from Myanmar continue to live in camps in Thailand. In spite of recent political reforms, refugees are reluctant to return home, citing poverty and concern for their safety.
In the the U.S., the IRC, through its New Roots program, helps connect refugees, many of whom were farmers in their countries of origin, with opportunities to build community gardens and sell their produce locally.