UNITED NATIONS: A record 70.8 million people had fled war, persecution and conflict by the end of last year, said a UN report released on Wednesday, seeking greater international solidarity to deal with the important humanitarian issue.

“We have become almost unable to make peace,” said the UN refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi, blaming wars and armed conflicts for this displacement. About 57 per cent of the more than 70m refugees were from troubled states like Afghanistan, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.

The data released on Wednesday showed that global displacement numbers were at their highest in almost 70 years, and Mr Grandi noted that these were “conservative” estimates.

“These are people who are escaping so it is difficult for them to get documents from their own country,” said the UN official while explaining why he believed there were many uncounted refugees in the world.

Referring to Europe’s recent, so-called refugee crisis, when hundreds of thousands of people fleeing wars in the Middle East risked their lives crossing treacherous Mediterranean waters to reach Greece and Italy, the UNHCR chief insisted that an open-door policy was essential.

“It’s a little bit like what happened in Europe in 2015 when you had one border closing after the other,” said Mr Grandi. “I know we are asking them a lot, but it is my job to appeal to those countries to keep the borders open.”

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2019