Geneva: Devastating conflicts, violence and persecution in Syria, South Sudan and elsewhere left a record 65.6 million people uprooted from their homes by the end of 2016, the UN said today.
That number marks a jump of just 300,000 from the end of 2015, but is more than six million higher than at the end of 2014, according to a report published by the UN refugee agency.
This is "the highest figure since we started recording these figures," UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi told reporters ahead of the report launch.
"By any measure, this is an unacceptable number, and it speaks louder than ever to the need for solidarity and common purpose in preventing and resolving crises," he said.
The figures released ahead of World Refugee Day showed that a full 10.3 million of the world's displaced people fled their homes last year alone, including 3.4 million who crossed international borders to become refugees.
"This equates to one person becoming displaced every three seconds, less than the time it takes to read this sentence," UNHCR pointed out in a statement.
There are more than 20 million more displaced people in the world today than just five years ago, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) chief Jan Egeland said today.
Until 2012, the global displacement number had for years remained relatively stable at around 40 million people, but "we now seem to be landing on a new horrific normal," he told AFP.
Most people who have been forced from their homes flee within their own country, and are defined as internally displaced people, or IDPs.
At the end of 2016, there were some 40.3 million IDPs in the world, down slightly from 40.8 million a year earlier, with Syria, Iraq and Colombia accounting for the greatest numbers.
Another 22.5 million people, half of them children, were registered as refugees last year, the UNHCR report showed, pointing out that this is "the highest level ever recorded".
Syria's six-year conflict alone has sent more than 5.5 million people seeking safety in other countries, including 825,000 last year alone, making it the world's biggest producer of refugees.