Today is World Refugee Day! - a time to recognize and to applaud the contributions of forcibly displaced people and the tireless humanitarians who work on their behalf to ameliorate their condition.
But there can be no celebration to mark this day against a backdrop of the dire reality of the number of the world's displaced people in 2015. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has determined there are 59.5 million displaced people worldwide - the highest ever in recorded history. And of this ballooning number, 19.5 million people are refugees, 38.2 million are internally displaced and 1.8 million are awaiting asylum placement. Of the 19.5 million refugees, another disheartening fact is that 50 percent are children.
The spike in the number of the world's displaced represents a stark humanitarian assessment of the modern times. "World stability is falling apart leaving a wake of displacement on an unprecedented scale," quips UNHCR head Antonio Guterres in a statement marking World Refugee Day. The international humanitarian said "Global Powers have become either passive observers or distant players in the conflicts driving so many innocent civilians from their homes."
Noting that: "In this world at war, where power relations are unclear, and unpredictability and impunity have become the name of the game", the UNHCR chief charged in his statement on the agency's website that: "...it is now urgent for all those with leverage over the parties to these conflicts to put aside their differences and come together to create the conditions for ending the bloodshed."
But Bashar al Assad's war still rages against Syrians, Yemen and Libya are boiling, conditions in North Africa are sending thousands to the shores of Europe, and persecution continues against the Rohingya people in Myanmar, while Ukraine's story remains unfinished.
Therefore, there needs to be decisive action to stem the surge in numbers of the world's displaced. And the UNHCR head concurs: "But in a meantime, the world must either shoulder collectively the burden of helping victims of war, or risk standing by as less wealthy countries and communities - which host 80 percent of the world's refugees -become overwhelmed and unstable."