The number of people forcibly displaced from their homes has never been so dire, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency, UNHCR. The annual report recapping the number of refugees and displaced people around the world solidified what many expected: an unprecedented rise in the number of people without homes.
But this report, providing numbers from the second half of 2014 for the first time, was worse than many expected: There was a major conflict in Ukraine, Boko Haram continued to inflict violence in Nigeria and surrounding regions and the Islamic State's mission to create its caliphate really began after it overtook Mosul last June. The outcome: "'a nation of the displaced' that is roughly equal to the population of the United Kingdom."
In Iraq alone, the number of those forcibly displaced surged to 4.1 million, a number that had only been this high during the war years earlier.
Many of the conflicts around the world that are causing this massive refugee crisis are ongoing. In fact, fewer people were able to return home in 2014 than anytime in the past 31 years. Wars in the Middle East, especially Syria, have been a major source for those displaced who haven't able to go back. According to The Washington Post's Griff Witte:
The four-year-old war in Syria has been the single biggest driver of the surging numbers. Last year, 1 in 5 displaced persons worldwide was Syrian. The country in 2014 became the planet’s largest source of refugees, displacing Afghanistan, which had held that dubious distinction for three decades.
The impact of a Syrian population on the move has been felt across the Middle East. Neighboring Turkey now hosts more refugees than any other nation, knocking Pakistan to No. 2. Lebanon has the world’s highest concentration, at nearly a quarter of those living in the tiny Mediterranean nation.