Poor nations bear the brunt of refugee issue

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Old 21-Jun-2011
Poor nations bear the brunt of refugee issue

Geneva: Four-fifths of the world's 15.4 million refugees are hosted in poor countries, where their prospects for citizenship are slim and economic opportunities are limited, according to a UN report released yesterday. More than a quarter are in just three nations: Pakistan, Iran and Syria.

Those figures don't include the latest wave of people displaced by this year's unrest in North Africa, most of whom have found refuge in neighbouring countries as European nations try to stop them from reaching their shores.

"Fears about supposed floods of refugees in industrialised countries are being vastly overblown or mistakenly conflated with issues of migration," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said.

"Meanwhile, it's poorer countries that are left having to pick up the burden." Guterres visited the Italian island of Lampedusa on Sunday, where together with UNHCR goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie, he met with migrants and refugees who have fled Tunisia and Libya in recent months.

Palestinians make up one-third of the world's refugee population a total of almost 5 million people many of whom have lived in neighbouring countries all their lives.

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