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World refugees' plight in spotlight

World refugees' plight in spotlight

by Reuters

Arif came to Hong Kong seeking asylum because he says he was tortured in his native Bangladesh.

Home is a corrugated iron hut on the Chinese border.

The government pays the rent and gives Arif and his family $116 a month to live on.

"We have no future here, we have no life here. Four years asylum in Hong Kong, what did I do? Nothing. Just sleeping at home. So we're just finishing, wasting our life here."

A new United Nations report says more than 45.2 million people were displaced at the end of last year.

It's the highest number in 18 years.

The majority - nearly 30 million - are those forced to flee their homes to what they hope are safer areas within their own countries.

The UN's High Commissioner for Refugees says wars like that underway in Syria are the main cause.

"I have no doubt the Syrian crisis is not only one of the most dramatic humanitarian crisis we have faced since the Cold War, but is the most dangerous one and the risks of spills over and the risks of negative impact on the countries of the region are enormous."

Ethnic and religious groups are also affected.

Myanmar's worst sectarian violence in decades has seen increasing numbers of Rohingyas fleeing in their thousands to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Myanmar deems them to be immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

Bangladesh doesn't recognise them as its citizens.

The UN report highlights major new displacements in African states including Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia.

The figures are daunting.

During last year about 7.6 million people became newly displaced.

That's a new refugee or internally displaced person every 4.1 seconds.