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5 facts you should know about the world’s refugees
Many governments do not report, or misreport, the numbers of refugees who enter their country.
Conflict, violence, persecution and human rights violations led to a record high of 70.8 million people being displaced by the end of 2018.
But the actual number could be higher because the data only partially reflects the current political and economic crisis in Venezuela, from which around four million people have fled, according to the UNHCR.
Here are the key facts about the world's displaced population from the UNHCR's Global Trends - Forced Displacement in 2018 report.
1. There were more than 13 million newly displaced people in 2018
The report's figures take account of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people.
While some displaced people did manage to return to their country of origin, there were 13.6 million newly displaced persons in 2018 – that means 37,000 persons were forced to flee their homes each day of the year due to war or persecution.
A total of 3.5 million asylum seekers - those under international protection, but not yet granted refugee status - were awaiting a decision about their applications, 1.7 million of which were new applicants.
More people sought asylum in the US than any other country, followed by Peru, Germany, France and Turkey.
2. The majority of refugees come from just five countries
More than two-thirds of all refugees originate from just five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. In each of these countries, war and unrest account for the high numbers of displaced people.
Syrians make up the largest single group of displaced people, with 13 million living in displacement, including 6,654,000 refugees, 6,184,000 internally displaced persons and 140,000 asylum seekers.
Syria has been the main country of origin of refugees for more than five years.
3. Most refugees seek refuge in the country next door
Almost four out of five refugees around the world sought refuge in a country neighbouring their homeland.
Since hostilities began in Syria in 2011, refugees have largely fled across the border into Turkey, which currently hosts the world's largest refugee population, at 3.7 million. As well as the 3.6 million exodus from Syria, Turkey has taken in smaller numbers of refugees from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.
The refugee population in Pakistan is almost exclusively from Afghanistan and has held steady over the last year, with the number of newborns in the refugee population equalling the headcount of people returning home.
4. Fewer refugees are returning home
While total global refugees increased during 2018, fewer returned to their homeland than in the previous year.
During 2018, the number of refugees who returned to their countries of origin stood at 593,800, down from 667,400 in 2017.
Although the situation in Syria is far from stable, more than 210,000 refugees did return home, mostly from Turkey.
South Sudan saw the second highest number of returnee refugees, primarily from Uganda.
5. Almost half of the world's refugees are children
Children under the age of 18 made up about half of the global refugee population in 2018, including many that were unaccompanied or separated from their parents - and, as such, at risk from abuse and exploitation.
During 2018, 27,600 unaccompanied or separated children were reported as having applied for asylum. At the end of 2018, 111,000 such children were reported among the refugee population.
However, many countries do not report, or misreport, the numbers of this most vulnerable refugee group, underestimating the actual figures.
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"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.
- The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
- It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
- Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We had to be really careful," Schmidt told St. Louis Public Radio. "We couldn't disturb anything at all, because at that point, it was under law enforcement investigation. They were telling us, 'Don't even make footprints,' and I was thinking, 'How are we supposed to do that?'"</p><p>Another difficulty was the mammoth size of the skull: about 7 feet long and more than 3,000 pounds. (For context, the largest triceratops skull ever unearthed was about <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02724634.2010.483632" target="_blank">8.2 feet long</a>.) The skull of Schmidt's dinosaur was likely a <em>Triceratops prorsus, </em>one of two species of triceratops that roamed what's now North America about 66 million years ago.</p>
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p>The triceratops was an herbivore, but it was also a favorite meal of the T<em>yrannosaurus rex</em>. That probably explains why the Dakotas contain many scattered triceratops bone fragments, and, less commonly, complete bones and skulls. In summer 2019, for example, a separate team on a dig in North Dakota made <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">headlines</a> after unearthing a complete triceratops skull that measured five feet in length.</p><p>Michael Kjelland, a biology professor who participated in that excavation, said digging up the dinosaur was like completing a "multi-piece, 3-D jigsaw puzzle" that required "engineering that rivaled SpaceX," he jokingly told the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a>.</p>
Morrison Formation in Colorado
James St. John via Flickr
|Credit: Nobu Tamura/Wikimedia Commons|
The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.
- Conflict and violence cost the world more than $14 trillion a year.
- That's the equivalent of $5 a day for every person on the planet.
- Research shows that peace brings prosperity, lower inflation and more jobs.
- Just a 2% reduction in conflict would free up as much money as the global aid budget.
- Report urges governments to improve peacefulness, especially amid COVID-19.
The lush biodiversity of South America's rainforests is rooted in one of the most cataclysmic events that ever struck Earth.
- One especially mysterious thing about the asteroid impact, which killed the dinosaurs, is how it transformed Earth's tropical rainforests.
- A recent study analyzed ancient fossils collected in modern-day Colombia to determine how tropical rainforests changed after the bolide impact.
- The results highlight how nature is able to recover from cataclysmic events, though it may take millions of years.