Syria Overtakes Afghanistan as Top Source Country for Refugees

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June 18, 2015 - Before the conflict in Syria started, the country was among the top five refugee hosting states. It is now the number one source country for refugees, having overtaken Afghanistan which had been the number one source country since 1981.

There are now a record 59.5 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, mostly as a result of war and persecution, according to figures released Thursday by the UN Refugee Agency in its annual Global Trends report. In addition to the 3.9 million Syrian refugees in 107 countries, there are another 7.6 million internally displaced Syrians. The vast majority of Syrian refugees are hosted in neighboring countries Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.

The number of Afghan refugees stands at 2.6 million, making them the second largest refugee group. The majority of Afghan refugees are hosted in Pakistan and Iran.

The next highest group of refugees are Somalis with 1.1 million, mostly residing in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Sudan and South Sudan are the third and fourth largest countries of origin for refugees with the latter experiencing a massive outflow of people fleeing war and hunger in the past twelve months – some 616,200 South Sudanese are now refugees compared with 114,400 last year. Ethiopia and Kenya were the top destination countries for South Sudanese.

Armed conflicts in the Central African Republic and Ukraine saw the number of refugees from these countries grow with Cameroon hosting the majority of CAR’s 412,000 refugees while more than 270,000 Ukrainians applied for asylum or refugee status in Russia. There are also more than 800,000 displaced inside Ukraine.

Developing countries continue to bear the primary burden of hosting refugees while the Americas hosts the lowest number and Europe – excluding Russian and Turkey, which is now the world’s biggest host country – the next lowest.

UNHCR said in its report that at least 3,500 people died crossing the Mediterranean last year seeking shelter in Europe.

More than half of the world’s refugees are children, the agency said.

The full report is here.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Image: Wikimedia

Sudan and Yemen Among Nine Countries to Lose UNGA Voting Rights

60th plenary meeting of the General Assembly 66th session:
Feb. 20, 2014 – The UN General Assembly has suspended the voting rights of nine member states over non-payment of dues.

Among the nine who have fallen foul of Article 19 of the UN Charter are Sudan and Yemen.

Article 19 declares that:

A Member of the United Nations which is in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the Organization shall have no vote in the General Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years.

A minimum payment of $111,300 is required from Sudan to get its voting privileges back, according to a letter from Ban Ki-moon to the president of the General Assembly, while Yemen owes $34,525.

In total, 14 countries are not in compliance with Article 19, but five of those, including the Central African Republic and Somalia, can still vote as the GA decided that inability to pay is beyond their control.

A list of the countries in arrears under Article 19 is here. The list, last updated on the UN’s website on Feb. 14, is accurate as of Feb. 20, according to a representative from the Committee on Contributions.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Image: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Sudan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe Among Thirteen to Lose UNGA Voting Rights

Jan. 30, 2012 – The UN General Assembly has suspended the voting rights of thirteen member states over non-payment of dues.

Among the thirteen who have fallen foul of Article 19 of the UN Charter are Sudan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. 

Article 19 declares that:

A Member of the United Nations which is in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the Organization shall have no vote in the General Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years. 

A minimum payment of $347,879 is required from Sudan to get its voting privileges back, according to the UN Committee on Contributions, while Venezuela will have to stump up $5,113,575 and Zimbabwe $38,815.

In all, 18 countries are not in compliance with Article 19, but five of those, including Central African Republic and Somalia, can still vote as the GA decided that inability to pay is beyond their control.

A list of the countries in arrears under Article 19 is here. This list was last updated on the UN’s website on Jan 21. Equatorial Guinea and Kyrgyzstan have paid up since then and have their voting rights restored, Allison Watson from the Committee on Contributions secretariat said Wednesday.

- Denis Fitzgerald