Almost 60 million people worldwide were forcibly uprooted by conflict and persecution at the end of last year, the highest ever recorded number, the UN refugee agency said yesterday.
More than half the displaced from crises including Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia were children, the UNHCR said in its annual 'Global Trends Report'.
In 2014, an average of 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced every day, representing a four-fold increase in just four years, the aid agency said.
"We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.
The UNHCR said Syria, where conflict has raged since 2011, was the world's biggest source of internally displaced people and refugees.
There were 7.6 million displaced people in Syria by the end of last year and almost 4 million Syrian refugees, mainly living in the neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
"The global distribution of refugees remains heavily skewed away from wealthier nations and towards the less wealthy," the UNHCR said.
The UNHCR said there were 38.2 million displaced by conflict within national borders, almost five million more than a year before, with wars in Ukraine, South Sudan, Nigeria, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo swelling the figures.
Of the 19.5 million refugees living outside their home countries, 5.1 million are Palestinians. Syrians, Somalis and Afghans make up more than half the remaining 14.4 million refugees, the UNHCR said.