by David Musyoka
NAIROBI, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Uganda received the largest number of new refugees in 2016 in the world, said new figures released by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Monday.
According to the UNHCR report, Uganda received 532,725 new refugees last year. Most fled the conflict in South Sudan.
The UN's major annual survey of displacement said at the end of 2016, there were 65.6 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, some 300,000 more than a year earlier, due to war and persecution.
Turkey was the country hosting the largest number of refugees in the world, with 3.1 million, followed by Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Pakistan.
"By any measure this is an unacceptable number, and it speaks louder than ever to the need for solidarity and common purpose in preventing and resolving crises, and ensuring together that the world's refugees, internally displaced and asylum seekers are properly protected and cared for while solutions are pursued," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
According to the report, South Sudan, the world's fastest growing refugee crisis, has by now forced 1.9 million people to flee across the border.
More than 737,000 people fled the conflict in South Sudan last year. Only Syria witnessed a larger number of new refugees at 824,000. According to the report, about half of these people are currently finding safety in Uganda.
Despite this, the country has received only 17 percent of the money needed to provide the most basic support to refugees and host communities so far this year.
Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) that tracks displacement across the globe said the system protecting refugees will collapse "if we do not step up our support to countries like Uganda."
"The richest and most stable countries from Europe to the U.S. do their uttermost to keep refugees away. At the same time, they are not adequately funding reception of refugees in poor host countries," Egeland said.
Syria's conflict remains the world's biggest producer of refugees (5.5 million), however in 2016 the biggest new factor was South Sudan where the disastrous breakdown of peace efforts in July that year contributed to the outflow of 739,900 people by year's end (1.87 million today).
Syria, Iraq, and the still very significant displacement inside Colombia were the biggest internal displacement situations.
"The refugee crisis continues unabated behind the walls and barriers Australian, U.S. and European leaders have erected. It may have disappeared from their view, but remains a stain on our global conscience," said Egeland.
In the shadow of the ongoing crises in Syria and Iraq, conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and South Sudan forced millions of people to flee their homes.
Egeland called on all countries to step up to the challenges the world is currently facing.
"The historic high displacement figures must foster more dedicated work for political solutions, increase funding to meet humanitarian needs, and bring a larger willingness among all countries to take their share of the responsibility," Egeland said.
He said about 2,000 people crossed the border from South Sudan into Uganda each day over the last twelve months.
"Borders must be kept open, but we can not expect a country like Uganda to shoulder the entire bill. If we fail, we will be faced with a more unstable world, where the alarming high displacement figures will only continue to increase," said Egeland.