State governors need to read this report before vilifying Syrian refugees

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The number of forcibly displaced people in the world is likely to exceed 60 million by the end of the year, according to a report released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today.

What that translate to, on a global scale: one in every 122 people in the world has been forced to flee their home. That includes people who are internally displaced within their own country, others who have fled their countries and are seeking asylum, and those who have been granted refugee status in another country. Registered refugees make up 15.1 million of those roughly 60 million–the highest number of refugees the world has seen in 20 years, according to the UHCR's Mid-Year Trends 2015 report.

"Forced displacement is now profoundly affecting our times," UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres said in a statement. "Never has there been a greater need for tolerance, compassion and solidarity with people who have lost everything."


Over the last three and a half years (roughly since the civil war in Syria began), the global refugee population has increased by around 45 percent, according to the report. That's 4.7 million people who have become refugees since 2011. The UNHCR says the war in Syria is the main reason for this large increase—there were fewer than 20,000 Syrian refugees in the world in 2010.

In just the first half of this year, 114,500 Syrians applied for asylum–that's almost twice the 59,600 who applied for asylum during the same period last year.

Despite calls from the UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations for the U.S. to offer asylum to more Syrians who are fleeing the brutal civil war in their country, anti-refugee rhetoric in America has risen since the Paris attacks.

Thirty-one state governors said in the last month that they were not in favor of accepting Syrian refugees, citing security fears after the terrorist attacks on Paris. While the federal government has not decreased its commitment to accept 10,000 Syrians by the end of 2016, that number is looking increasingly inadequate by global standards.


Canada has been internationally lauded for welcoming refugees after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced they'll take 35,000 Syrian refugees by the end of next year. Germany continues to provide asylum for Syrians–as of November, they had accepted 57,000 Syrian refugees. And France, the target of the terrorist attacks that gave rise to this anti-refugee sentiment in the U.S., has not changed its commitment to accept 30,000 refugees over the next two years.

"Some want to establish a link between the influx of refugees coming from the Middle-East and the terrorist threat," French President Francois Hollande said while addressing French mayors a few days after the Paris attacks. "The truth is that this link exists, because inhabitants of areas in Iraq and Syria are fleeing because they are being murdered by those who are attacking us today."

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