The world's refugee population, 13.3 million persons uprooted by war and political and social unrest, is larger today than at any time in recent history, according to a U.S. report on world refugee problems.
The report, which is similar to a study done last year by the private, Washington-based U.S. Committee for Refugees, said most of the newly homeless persons are heading West.
"The non-communist countries of Europe provide major financial, resettlement and policy support for international refugee relief efforts throughout the world," according to the report by the Office of the U.S. Coordinator of Refugee Affairs.
Last year, for example, countries in Western Europe contributed $80 million of the $146 million used by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to resettle displaced persons.
The United States alone contributed $44 million of the total UNHCR amount, according to the report.
The refugee affairs office pointedly criticized communist countries in Asia and Europe for producing a major portion of the world's refugees while doing little to help them. The office reperted "With the exception of Yugoslavia, the communist countries of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union have not participated financially or otherwise in this global effort" to help refugees.
On the contrary, since those countries generate many times more refugees than they admit, they contribute significantly to the refugee problem. Over 30,000 refugees, mostly Soviet Jews, left the Soviet Union in 1978 alone, the report said.
The largest refugee problem is in Africa, where 3 million displaced persons, fleeing war, civil strife and racism, wander the continent. Rapidly growing numbers of refugees may lead to more unrest there, the report said.
"The dimensions of the problem are measured not only in terms of human suffering and need but also in the serious destabilizing impact of the refugees," the report said of the African provlem.
The report said the UNHCR currently plans to spend $48 million to ease refugee suffering in Africa. The United States plans to contribute a third of that amount, according to the report.