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New Refugee Numbers Soar, UN Says


Afghan refugees near Peshawar, Pakistan, offer Eid al-Adha prayers. (file photo)

Afghan refugees near Peshawar, Pakistan, offer Eid al-Adha prayers. (file photo)

A new report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says conflicts around the world produced 800,000 new refugees in 2011.

The figure represents the most new refugees in a single year since 2000, when 822,000 people abandoned their homes.

However, a near-record 3.2 million people returned to their homes in 2011, the UN says, reducing the total of refugees and internally displaced people globally to 42.5 million.

The high number of refugees in 2011 was attributed primarily to the conflicts in Libya, Sudan, and Somalia.

Afghanistan is the leading source of refugees, accounting for 2.7 million.

The UNHCR report says that of the 10.4 million refugees for which the agency is responsible, more than 7 million have been refugees for more than five years.

June 20 is the UN's World Refugee Day.

With AP, dpa, and RFE/RL reporting

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