Tents, sacks of food and a replica of a burnt-out village hut appeared in Trafalgar Square today as a tourist hotspot became a refugee camp to highlight the plight of millions of people displaced in Darfur and elsewhere.
The display, set up to mark World Refugee Day this week, came as the U.N. refugee agency reported a record 11.4 million people were driven from their home countries last year.
In its annual report released Tuesday, the UNHCR said 11.4 million people were forced to leave their countries in 2007, compared to 9.9 million in 2006. Another 26 million were displaced within their own countries by conflict or persecution, up from 24.2 million the year before.
Nearly half the world's refugees are from war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq.
UNHCR said there are 3.1 million displaced Afghans, most in neighboring Pakistan and Iran, and 2.3 million Iraqi refugees, mostly in Syria and Jordan. Another 2.4 million Iraqis are internally displaced, an increase of 600,000 since the start of 2007.
The number of internally displaced people grew last year in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Yemen, as well as in the Central African Republic and Chad, where thousands of refugees have crossed the border from the Sudanese region of Darfur. (Full)
Picture courtesy Lefteris Pitarakis (AP Photo)