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More people became refugees last year than in any year since 2000, UN reports

A Bangladeshi security officer gives water to Rohingya Muslims, fleeing from ethnic violence in Myanmar between Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims, on a boat jetty at Shahporir Dwip in Taknaf, Bangladesh, Monday, June 18, 2012. A border guard official says they have detained 128 Rohingya refugees seeking shelter from sectarian violence in western Myanmar. Bangladesh has refused to allow the refugees in despite call by the United Nations. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

OTTAWA - A new report by the United Nations says more people became refugees last year than in any year since 2000.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees' report says 4.3 million people were newly displaced in 2011, with 800,000 fleeing their countries and becoming refugees.

In total, 42.5 million people ended 2011 as refugees, internally displaced or in the process of seeking asylum.

The UNHCR report attributes the high numbers last year to a string of humanitarian crises brought on by drought and conflict in the Middle East and Africa.

Canada ranked ninth in destinations for new asylum seekers, and together with the United States, admitted four-fifths of all the refugees resettled by the UN in 2011.

The UNHCR representative in Canada says the country is still highly-regarded for its work on helping people displaced around the world find a new home.

But Furio De Angelis says concerns remain about the Harper government's recent changes to refugee laws.

De Angelis is expected to have more to say about the issue when he testifies today before a Senate committee.


News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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