Number of displaced people reaches new high of 70.8 million ahead of World Refugee Day

PHOTO: A boy sits at the entrance of a prefab at the Skaramangas refugee camp, on the outskirts of Athens, on June 5, 2019.PlayLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images
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According to a new report released by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, by the end of 2018 there were 70.8 million people forcibly displaced from their homes.

That figure represents more people than the population of Thailand, the 20th most populous country, according to U.N. figures from 2017.

It marks a dramatic increase in the number of forcibly displaced people over the past decade, jumping from 43.3 million in 2009 to 70.8 million in 2018.

PHOTO: Young South Sudanese refugees are transported from the border of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to a refugee settlement site in Aru, DRC, May 10, 2019. John Wessels/AFP/Getty Images
Young South Sudanese refugees are transported from the border of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to a refugee settlement site in Aru, DRC, May 10, 2019.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres posted on Instagram that "my thoughts are with the more than 70 million women, children and men - refugees and internally displaced persons - who have been forced to flee war, conflict and persecution."

"Their courage and resilience is an example to us all. I want to recognize the humanity of countries that host refugees even as they struggle with their own economic challenges and security concerns. It is regrettable that their example is not followed by all," Guterres wrote in his post.

The U.N. report, published Wednesday, attributes "most of this increase" to the Syrian conflict, but said that other conflicts in Iraq, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Myanmar were also factors.

The historically high number of displaced people in 2018 includes 13.6 million who were newly displaced as a result of conflict or persecution in 2018, the U.N.'s Global Trends report states.

All told, the estimated figures break down to 37,000 new displacements every day in 2018, or 25 people forced to flee every minute, the report states.

"What we are seeing in these figures is further confirmation of a longer-term rising trend in the number of people needing safety from war, conflict and persecution," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi is quoted as saying in the report.

Countries most impacted by refugee crisis ABC NEWS
Countries most impacted by refugee crisis

The regions with the largest number of fleeing refugees unsurprisingly correspond closely with ongoing conflicts. Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia are the five home countries with the highest number of refugees in 2018. Collectively, those countries represent 67% of all global refugees, the U.N.'s report states.

As a result of those fleeing refugees, neighboring countries -- like Turkey, Pakistan, Sudan and Uganda -- were among the top receivers of refugees in 2018. Germany was the lone member of the top five countries receiving large numbers of refugees that does not share a border with a country where people were displaced.