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June 22, 2011

UN report says 80 per cent of world\’s refugees live in poor countries

UN report says 80 per cent of world’s refugees live in poor countries

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

UNHCR aid delivered to Kenya.
Image: DoD photo by: TSgt Steve Staedler.

Reflecting an “overwhelming imbalance”, the majority of the world’s forcibly displaced refugees have been taken in by poor, developing countries, not industrialized countries, according to the 2010 Global Trends report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released on Monday. The report states that many of the poorest countries in the world have accommodated the largest numbers of refugees in absolute terms and also in proportion to their economies.

Nyanzale, in the Masisi, Congo refugee camp.
Image: Julien Harneis.

There were 43.7 million people displaced worldwide at the end of 2010, according to the report, more than half children. UNHCR works in over 120 countries and includes both refugees forced to flee a country as well as those forced out of areas in their own country. The global total is broken down into the following categories: 15.4 million refugees, 27.5 million internally displaced people, and another 840,000 people awaiting to be assigned to refugee status.

In addition, there are an estimated 12 million stateless people around the world; people who lack even the basic identity of a nationality. Since 2004, the reported numbers of stateless populations has steadily increased.

According to the report, Pakistan’s 1.9 million refugee population is the largest, followed by Iran with 1.1 million and Syria with 1 million. The neighboring nations of Afghanistan and Iraq accounted for the largest number of people fleeing.

The report states: “Pakistan also has the biggest economic impact with 710 refugees for each US dollar of its per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP), followed by Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya with 475 and 247 refugees respectively. By comparison, Germany, the industrialized country with the largest refugee population (594,000 people), has 17 refugees for each dollar of per capita GDP.”

Refugees arriving at Travnik, central Bosnia, during the war in 1993.
Image: Evstafiev.

The new report depicts a very different situation than when the UN refugee agency was founded in 1950 to deal with the 2.1 million Europeans displaced by World War Two. And it comes at a time when anti-refugee feelings are increasing in many industrialized countries.

Cquote1.svg Fears about supposed floods of refugees in industrialized countries are being vastly overblown or mistakenly conflated with issues of migration. Meanwhile, it’s poorer countries that are left having to pick up the burden. Cquote2.svg

—António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees

“Fears about supposed floods of refugees in industrialized countries are being vastly overblown or mistakenly conflated with issues of migration. Meanwhile, it’s poorer countries that are left having to pick up the burden”, said António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

UNHCR UK spokesman Mans Nyberg called for greater urgency in conflict resolution: “We are also concerned with the 7m people in protracted situations who are living in camps for more than 10 years, sometimes even 30 years. We are really appealing to the international community to put more efforts into conflict resolution so that these situations can be resolved.”

The report notes that in 2010 Japan resettled 18 families from Myanmar, becoming the first Asian country to accept refugees.

The large number of people that fled Libya, Côte d’Ivoire and Syria in 2011, were not tallied in the report.



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Brazil spots unknown tribe of indigenous people in Amazon jungle

Brazil spots unknown tribe of indigenous people in Amazon jungle

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Map of Brazil. Javari river valley reservation is near the border of Peru.
Image: Felipe Menegaz.

Brazil has located an isolated group of indigenous, uncontacted people in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, the Brazilian National Foundation of Indians (FUNAI) announced today.

FUNAI, a state agency, uses aerial expeditions to avoid impacting uncontacted people and invading their land. The agency’s policy is to avoid maintaining any human contact with untouched tribes.

Clearings in the Javari river valley reservation were first identified by satellite; the group’s existence was only verified later by air flights over the area. The flights established the existence of three clearings with four straw-roofed buildings, known as malocas, which may shelter over 200 Indians. Also visible were areas where crops such as bananas, maize and perhaps peanuts were apparently being grown.

FUNAI’s Javari valley coodinator told the Brazilian news agency Estado that both the croplands and the malocas “are new” and are estimated to have been used “for at most one year”.

Cquote1.svg [T]he Amazon region contains the majority of untouched tribes without any contact with the exterior in the World. Cquote2.svg

—Fabricio Amorim, FUNAI coordinator

Amorim said, “[T]he Amazon region contains the majority of untouched tribes without any contact with the exterior in the World.” And he said the recent findings highlight that the Javari valley holds, “the greatest concentration of isolated groups in Amazonia“.

The newly identified group is located close to Brazil’s border with Peru in the huge Vale do Javari reservation. Fourteen known uncontacted tribes have been spotted there and up to eight more are suggested by aerial evidence. Altogether, there are about 2,000 individuals in the reservation, according to Amorim.

He said that their culture and their very survival is threatened by illegal removal of the area’s natural resources, as well as many other intrusions of civilization, but most of Brazil’s indigenous groups have not changed their languages or traditions. FUNAI estimates that the recently discovered tribe likely belongs to the pano language group.

Brazil’s indigenous peoples have tenaciously fought for their legal right to reclaim their traditional lands which were allotted to them in Brazil’s 1988 constitution stating that all indigenous ancestral lands were to have their boundaries clearly marked and returned to tribes within five years.



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