More than 65 million people were forcibly displaced by conflict in 2015, according to a United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report, nearly 6 million more than 2014.
Of the total, 21.3 million were refugees, which include 16.1 million under the UNHCR’s mandate as well as 5.2 million refugees registered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.
The remaining 65 million included 40.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 3.2 million asylum seekers.
This works out to one out of every 113 people, and an average of 24 people every minute and 34,000 per day. Children under 18 years old represented 51 percent of those forcibly displaced.
“More than half (54 percent of the 16.1 million) of all refugees worldwide came from just three countries: the Syrian Arab Republic (4.9 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), and Somalia (1.1 million),” the report stated.
While Turkey (2.1 million) and Pakistan (1.6 million) were host to the highest number of displaced persons in 2015, “Lebanon [1.1 million] hosted the largest number of refugees in relation to its national population, with 183 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants.”
The Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD) led by Baptist Nabil Costa has been working with displaced persons since the crisis began.
“We are working with around 5,000 Syrian refugee families,” Costa shared with EthicsDaily.com in July 2014. “This is how we practice our Christianity.”
LSESD “is working with [refugees] through 18 local churches … with an average size of 125-135 members,” Costa’s LSESD colleague Alia Abboud told EthicsDaily.com in April 2014. “Each church has taken on a number of families that is greater than its own size.”
Costa later explained that a shift from fear to compassion had taken place among Christians in Lebanon, leading them to put their faith into action amid the ongoing crisis.
“We were afraid of helping Muslims,” he explained, due to a “contentious history” between Syria and Lebanon. “We soon realized that most refugees are innocent people who were living in peace and have nothing to do with the conflict. … As Christians, we couldn’t look the other way while they suffered. We couldn’t follow Jesus and ignore the plight of desperate refugees.”
Ban Ki Moon, United Nations secretary general, commented on the report, saying, “We are facing the biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time. Above all, this is not just a crisis of numbers; it is also a crisis of solidarity.”
Costa and other Baptists in Lebanon working to help refugees seem to agree.
The full report is available here.