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Poor Countries Shouldering Global Displaced Burden

by AFP
Aris Messinis—AFP

File Photo. Aris Messinis—AFP

World Bank report finds around one percent of all humanity is now living in forced displacement.

The overwhelming majority of the world’s displaced people, a burgeoning population fed by long-term conflicts, are hosted by developing countries, according to a report released on Thursday by the World Bank.

About 65 million people, roughly one percent of all humanity, now live in forced displacement, including refugees and the internally displaced, with populations fleeing war in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan, among others, the report said, noting that the current refugee crisis was the second-largest since World War II. By the end of 2015, 95 percent of this population was parked precariously in developing countries and fragile states, depressing hopes for local development in host countries and feeding social strife.

“Large movements of people are also furling xenophobic reactions, even in high-income countries, and this could threaten the consensus that is underpinning global economic growth,” the report said.

While the northward movements of people in distress towards Europe from Syria and Afghanistan has driven media headlines in recent years, the story is much broader, the report said. By the end of last year, three of Syria’s neighbors, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, hosted 27 percent of all refugees while Pakistan and Iran were the newfound homes of another 16 percent.

The report called for greater involvement from the world’s development sector in responding to the crisis, which it said was not traditionally a role for institutions and development agencies whose mission is to spur growth and eliminate poverty.

“Humanitarian agencies have been calling for development institutions to support new approaches that can produce sustainable solutions,” the report said. “The best results are likely to be achieved when humanitarian and development actors work together.”

Development agencies can help address the crisis by discouraging local policies that lead to force displacement, aiding host countries’ preparations and supporting the livelihoods among populations that remain behind, the report said.

The call for the development world to address the crisis of displaced populations jibed with an apparently evolving World Bank mission under President Jim Yong Kim, a medical doctor who is poised to win an uncontested reelection to a second term. Venturing in a new direction, Kim drove the Bank’s intervention in the 2014 Ebola crisis, quickly mobilizing nearly $2 billion to support the international response to the disease.

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