Number of global displaced up to 65.6 million last year

In South Sudan to launch the UNHCR's annual refugee report, Grandi said his agency had already worked there for decades, helping hundreds of thousands fleeing the territory's long wars with Khartoum.

The worldwide number of asylum seekers - which the United Nations refugee agency defines as "people who are seeking global protection but whose refugee status is yet to be determined" - reached 2.8 million at the end of a year ago.

By the end of a year ago, Syria had 12 million forcibly displaced people, and was the source of the largest number of refugees.

The agency said its report shows one of every 113 people worldwide is either a refugee or has been forcibly displaced within their own country.

By population, the report said Syria still accounts for the biggest number of displaced people at 12 million, followed by Colombia with 7.7 million, Afghanistan with 4.7 million, Iraq with 4.2 million and South Sudan at 3.3 million. As the organization pointed out, this equals one person being displaced every three seconds.

"She also said that in 2017, the number of displaced persons reached more than 60 million, the highest it has been since World War II". The number of people uprooted within their own countries was down slightly past year, as was the number of asylum seekers.

Another 22.5 million people - half of them children - were registered as refugees previous year, the UNHCR report showed, pointing out that this is "the highest level ever recorded". The war in Syria, now in its seventh year, has created a total of 5.5 million refugees as of 2016.

"By any measure this is an unacceptable number", U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement.

The UN refugee chief also voiced alarm over the rapidly deteriorating situation in South Sudan, which he said was now the world's "fastest growing refugee crisis and displacement crisis". "There were many families with children aboard".

Australia has doled out nearly $16 million to support displaced people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Philippines on World Refugee Day.

Yet South Sudan's refugee crisis is testing the limits of Uganda's generosity, with the continuing influx exerting a lot of pressure on the available resources.

Uganda's government and the United Nations are appealing for $8 billion to deal with the crisis of refugees from South Sudan. It's the second largest camp for displaced in the country, after the capital of Juba, with 120,000 people living in rows of tented squalor.

About 84% of the people were in low- or middle-income countries as of end 2016.

While Grandi said ensuring people were safe was important, he warned against setting up "kingdoms of dependency" like the sprawling camps for Somali refugees in Dadaab in northern Kenya that have become permanent settlements.

They house some of the 18 million displaced people in Africa.

Syria continues to be the largest source of refugees.

The ranking does not include the 5.3 million registered Palestinian refugees.

It was followed by Pakistan (1.4 million), Lebanon (1 million), Iran (979,400), Uganda (940,800), and Ethiopia (791,600).

  • Leroy Wright