The 2011 Global Trends focuses on major humanitarian developments_ in terms to displacement, either within or beyond international borders. It also reviews general statistical trends and patterns for populations considered to be of concern to UNHCR–refugees, returnees, stateless and internally displaced persons (IDPs)–collectively referred to as “persons of concern”.
2011 was marked by a succession of major refugee crises._ Conflicts in Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Somalia and Sudan alone forced more than 800,000 refugees into neighbouring countries, the highest number in over a decade. In addition, an estimated 3.5 million people were displaced within the borders of their countries, one-fifth more than in 2010. By the end of 2011, some 42.5 million people worldwide were considered as forcibly displaced due to conflict and persecution.
They included 15.2 million refugees, 26.4 million IDPs(6) and some 895,000 individuals whose asylum applications had not yet been adjudicated by the end of the reporting period. As crises escalated to a number not seen in many years, the total number of persons under UNHCR’s care increased by 700,000 people, standing at 25.9 million by year-end. Although the number of refugees decreased slightly to 10.4 million from 10.55 in 2010, that of IDPs protected or assisted by UNHCR increased to 15.5 million from 14.7 in 2010.
In addition, UNHCR estimated that up to 12 million people were stateless, although official statistics covered only some 3.5 million of them. Securing durable solutions has remained one of UNHCR’s core activities. In 2011 an estimated 532,000 refugees were able to return home voluntarily, the highest number since 2008, but still the third lowest recorded of the past decade. Despite all efforts, the prevailing situation in a number of countries continued to prevent the return of millions of refugees. As a consequence, the number of refugees considered to be in protracted situations was 7.1 million at year-end. UNHCR submitted more than 92,000 refugees for resettlement in 2011, one-sixth less than in 2010, largely due to inaccessibility to refugee populations due to security constraints as well as States’ processing backlogs. An estimated 3.2 m illion IDPs were able to return home in 2011, the highest in many years.
Despite the interface of global migration patterns and asylum, the 2011 Global Trends report does not address mixed migration issues, largely due to a lack of reliable data on these flows. However, UNHCR estimates that more than 1,500 people, including potential asylumseekers, drowned or went missing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean in 2011, making it the deadliest year in the Mediterranean since UNHCR began recording these figures in 2006. In addition, a record 103,000 refugees, asylumseekers and migrants from the Horn of Africa made the perilous journey to Yemen across the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea in 2011: more than 130 persons are known to have drowned in the attempt. In the Asia-Pacific region, some 430 presumed asylum-seekers drowned in maritime incidents known to UNHCR in 2011.
Most of the statistics presented in 2011 Global Trends have been reported by UNHCR country offices, based on governmental sources, reports from non-governmental organizations and UNHCR’s own registration and data collection. The numbers have been rounded up to the closest hundred or thousand for the purposes of this report. As some adjustments may appear in the 2011 Statistical Yearbook, to be released later this year, the figures contained in the 2011 Global Trends should be considered as provisional and may be subject to change. Unless otherwise specified, the report does not refer to events occurring after 31 December 2011.
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