2014 will be record refugee year - Norwegian charity

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Jan Egeland. Photo: NRC
16:58 CET+01:00
A Norwegian charity has predicted that the number of refugees in the world will continue to rise in 2014, after a record year in 2013. Norway needs to be ready to help, the charity's boss says.

“The international community must be ready to strengthen its efforts,” said Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugees Council.

The war in Syria is currently the biggest source of refugees, although conflicts in Africa are also a significant factor. South Sudan could be heading for a catastrophic civil war and the Central African Republic continues to be one of the world’s most under-reported war zones, according to the charity. 

This could make 2014 a year during which an even greater number of people are forced to flee their homes than 1994, when more than 47 million people worldwide were refugees due to the Rwandan genocide and the Bosnian War.

“The most recent developments in South Sudan are tragic but unsurprising. The world must prepare for a civil war that will cause many people to flee, as there is no quick solution,” Egeland, a former deputy secretary general of the UN, said. The Sahel area of sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan were all areas where there were few indications of peace any time soon.

In Syria, more than 2.3 million people have fled to neighbouring countries, a figure that is expected to rise to 4.1 million by the end of 2014. An additional 6.5 million people have had to flee their homes to other parts of Syria.

“For Norway this means that we, like other European countries, must accept more refugees. At the same time the main efforts should be focused on helping even more refugees in the near-neighbourhood. Not least, Norway must give more aid to countries sheltering a rapidly rising number of Syrian refugees, like Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan,” Egeland said.

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