(Reuters) - The number of people forced to flee their homes to escape war or abuse has risen to its highest for 15 years, with four out of five refugees in developing countries, the United Nations said on Monday.
In all, there were 43.7 million displaced people worldwide at the end of 2010, up from 43.3 million a year before, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.
They include 15.4 million refugees who fled across borders — 80 percent of them to nearby developing countries — and 27.5 million uprooted within their own homelands, it said in an annual report. A further 850,000 are asylum seekers who lodged claims.
“Fear about supposed floods of refugees in industrialized countries are being vastly overblown or mistakenly conflated with issues of migration,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
“Meanwhile it’s poorer countries that are left having to pick up the burden,” said Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal who heads the Geneva-based agency.