More than 65 million refugees worldwide

It is the highest ever recorded figure. The data published on the occasion of World Refugee Day. 50% come from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia. 80% are housed in poor countries. Europe's divisions. The positive example of Iran. Pope Francis’s admonition.

New York (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The number of refugees worldwide has reached the figure of 65.3 million people, including those seeking asylum and internally displaced persons. This is what emerges from the annual report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), published on the occasion of World Refugee Day, which is celebrated today. The figure of over 65 million is the highest ever recorded before, with an increase of at least 5 million from last year.

50% of the refugees come from war-torn or unstable countries: Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia. Another significant finding is that the majority of refugees - at least 80% - are housed not in rich countries, but in those with medium and low incomes.

In an interview with AFP, the head of UNHCR, the Italian Filippo Grandi, noted that due to the pressure of refugees, there is a worrying and growing "climate of xenophobia” in Europe. According to Grandi, at the head of the organization since last January, European leaders need to better explain to their people that refugees flee from dangerous places and "do not represent a danger to us ... In fact, they contribute to the development of society" .

According to the International Organization of Migrants, in 2015 more than 1 million migrants arrived in Europe by sea and 35,000 by land. Most of them want to go to rich countries like Germany and Sweden.

The wave of refugees, however, has dealt a blow to the European Union instead of united and coordinated action, some states have imposed new barriers and border controls within the Schengen area.

Filippo Grandi, traveling in the Middle East to monitor the crisis of Afghan refugees, praised Iran which has welcomed more than 3 million Afghan migrants. Of these, only one million are regular.

What is being done in Iran - he said - "is a true example for other nations, such as to give children free access to the school system."

Yesterday during the Angelus, Pope Francis, recalled that today is World Refugee Day. "Refugees - said the Pope - are people like everyone else, but war has taken away their home, work, relatives, friends. Their stories and their faces call us to renew our commitment to build peace in justice. So we want to be with them, meet them, welcome them, listen to them, to become peacemakers according to the will of God".