TIME Iran

Iran Bans U.S. From U.N. Nuclear Inspections

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister and chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi holds a press conference at Iran's Foreign Ministry in Tehran on July 22, 2015.
Fatemeh Bahrami—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister and chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi holds a press conference at Iran's Foreign Ministry in Tehran on July 22, 2015.

"Inspectors should be from countries that have diplomatic relations with Islamic republic of Iran"

(TEHRAN, Iran) — Iran will not allow American or Canadian inspectors working for the U.N. nuclear watchdog to visit its nuclear facilities, an official said in remarks broadcast by state TV on Thursday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Iran will only allow inspectors from countries that have diplomatic relations with it. The previously undisclosed remarks were made during a Sunday meeting with parliamentarians.

“American and Canadian inspectors cannot be sent to Iran,” said Araghchi. “It is mentioned in the deal that inspectors should be from countries that have diplomatic relations with Islamic republic of Iran.”

He also said inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will not have access to “sensitive and military documents.”

Iran and world powers reached a historical deal earlier this month aimed at curbing Tehran’s disputed nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. Western nations have long suspected Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons alongside its civilian atomic program, allegations denied by Tehran, which insists its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful.

The U.S. and Iran severed diplomatic relations after the 1979 Islamic revolution and the hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Canada closed its embassy in Tehran and suspended diplomatic relations in 2012.

TIME India

India Will Become the World’s Most Populous Country by 2022, the U.N. Says

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Getty Images

That's much earlier than previously thought

India is on track to become the world’s most populous nation in less than a decade — or six years earlier than previously thought, according to the U.N.

With 1.38 billion people compared with India’s 1.31 billion, China is currently the world’s most populous country. Figures for both countries are expected to swell to around 1.4 billion by 2022, at which point India’s population is likely to expand beyond China’s.

At the end of the next decade, in 2030, India is projected to have 1.5 billion people, a figure that’s forecast to balloon to 1.7 billion by 2050. China’s population, on the other hand, is forecast to remain relatively stable until the 2030s, at which point the U.N. says it is likely to “slightly decrease.” In a forecast published two years ago, India had been expected to overtake China around the year 2028.

The projections from the population division of the U.N.’s economic and social affairs unit were published in a new report that also forecast an expansion in the world’s overall population to 8.5 billion by 2030. By the middle of the century, there are likely to be as many as 9.7 billion people worldwide, with six of the 10 largest countries — India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and the U.S. — expected to have populations exceeding 300 million people.

“While the global projections should not be cause for alarm, we must recognize that the concentration of population growth in the poorest countries presents a distinct set of challenges, making it more difficult to eradicate poverty and inequality, to combat hunger and malnutrition, and to expand educational enrollment and health systems,” John Wilmoth, who heads the U.N. division that produced the report, told the Associated Press.

India’s population is not growing the fastest, however, with Nigeria growing at such a rapid pace that it is expected to have more people than the U.S. by 2050, at which point it is likely to become the third most populous country in the world.

TIME United Nations

Russia Blocks Criminal Prosecution in Malaysia Airlines Crash

UN-SECURITY COUNCIL
Kena Betancur—AFP/Getty Images Members of the UN Security Council vote to establish a tribunal to prosecute those responsible for shooting down flight MH17 during a meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York on July 29, 2015.

Despite international suspicion, Russia denies that the Malaysian plane was shot down by Russian soldiers or Russia-backed separatist rebels

(UNITED NATIONS) — Russia on Wednesday vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would set up an international criminal court to prosecute those responsible for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine a year ago.

The foreign ministers of the Netherlands, Australia and Ukraine attended a meeting over the downing that killed all 298 people on board Flight MH17. The countries are among the five nations investigating the incident, along with Malaysia and Belgium.

Ukraine and the West suspect the plane, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was hit by a surface-to-air missile fired by Russian soldiers or Russia-backed separatist rebels on July 17, 2014. Russia denies that, and state media have alleged the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian missile or warplane.

“Russia has callously disregarded the public outcry in the grieving nations,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said, adding that the United States was among the 18 countries that lost citizens in the disaster. Three countries abstained from the vote: China, Venezuela and Angola.

Wednesday’s vote followed a last-minute effort to lobby Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has said setting up a tribunal would not make sense while the investigation continued.

The Dutch ambassador to the U.N., Karel van Oosterom, tweeted a statement saying Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Putin that “it was preferable to make a decision about the tribunal before the facts and charges have been established precisely in order to avoid politicizing the prosecution process.”

But the Kremlin quoted Putin as saying a tribunal would be “inexpedient” because Russia still has “a lot of questions” about the investigation to which it had little access.

Russia had offered its own draft that demanded justice for those responsible for the crash without calling for a tribunal. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council after the vote that such a tribunal risked not being impartial and being subject to media “propaganda,” and he called past tribunals for the Rwanda genocide and the violence in the former Yugoslavia “expensive.”

The foreign ministers met Wednesday morning with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called for justice and accountability.

A preliminary report released in the Netherlands last year said the plane had no technical problems in the seconds before it broke up in the sky after being struck by multiple objects — a conclusion that experts said likely pointed to a missile strike.

The investigation led by the Dutch Safety Board aims only to determine the crash cause, not to ascribe blame. The probe is being led by The Netherlands because 196 of the victims were Dutch.

A separate probe by the Dutch national prosecutor’s office aims to establishing who was responsible. This investigation includes authorities from Ukraine, Malaysia and other countries whose nationals were among the victims, but Russia is not a participant.

TIME United Nations

U.N. Security Council Endorses Iran Nuclear Deal

The measure will let sanctions "snap back" in place if Iran fails to meet its obligations

(UNITED NATIONS) — The U.N. Security Council on Monday unanimously endorsed the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers and authorized a series of measures leading to the end of U.N. sanctions that have hurt Iran’s economy.

But the measure also provides a mechanism for U.N. sanctions to “snap back” in place if Iran fails to meet its obligations.

The resolution had been agreed to by the five veto-wielding council members, who along with Germany negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran. It was co-sponsored by all 15 members of the Security Council.

Under the agreement, Iran’s nuclear program will be curbed for a decade in exchange for potentially hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of relief from international sanctions. Many key penalties on the Iranian economy, such as those related to the energy and financial sectors, could be lifted by the end of the year.

The document specifies that seven resolutions related to U.N. sanctions will be terminated when Iran has completed a series of major steps to curb its nuclear program and the International Atomic Energy Agency has concluded that “all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities.”

All provisions of the U.N. resolution will terminate in 10 years, including the snap back provision.

But last week the six major powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — and the European Union sent a letter, seen by The Associated Press, informing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that they have agreed to extend the snap back mechanism for an additional five years. They asked Ban to send the letter to the Security Council.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the nuclear deal doesn’t change the United States’ “profound concern about human rights violations committed by the Iranian government or about the instability Iran fuels beyond its nuclear program, from its support for terrorist proxies to repeated threats against Israel to its other destabilizing activities in the region.”

She urged Iran to release three “unjustly imprisoned” Americans and to determine the whereabouts of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who vanished in 2007.

“But denying Iran a nuclear weapon is important not in spite of these other destabilizing actions but rather because of them,” Power said.

She quoted President Barack Obama saying the United States agreed to the deal because “an Iran with a nuclear weapon would be far more destabilizing and far more dangerous to our friends and to the world.”

TIME United Nations

Russia Holds Up U.N. Vote by Refusing to Call Srebrenica a Genocide

Bosnia Srebrenica
Amel Emric—AP People pass by posters displaying Russian President Vladimir Putin in the town of Bratunac, near Srebrenica, northeast of Sarajevo, on June, 28, 2015

The Serbian Prime Minister said the British resolution "pushed us into the trenches of hatred"

(UNITED NATIONS) — The U.N. Security Council delayed a vote on a British-drafted resolution that would condemn the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica during the Bosnian war as “a crime of genocide” until Wednesday after Russia informed council members it would veto the measure.

Supporters of the resolution had been hoping for its unanimous approval to mark the 20th anniversary of the slaughter by Bosnian Serbs of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys who had sought refuge at what was supposed to be a U.N.-protected site. But leaders of the Bosnian Serbs and Serbia, who have close religious and cultural ties to Russia, have lobbied President Vladimir Putin to vote “no.’

The Serbian and Bosnian Serb governments called emergency sessions for Tuesday evening to discuss the draft resolution but the Bosnian Serb meeting was canceled.

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik told local media late Tuesday: “The text of the resolution is so fundamentally bad, that it cannot be corrected. Russia is acting in accordance with the talks we had with them.”

The Serbian government at its emergency session late Tuesday reiterated its rejection of the British U.N. resolution, but decided Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic would attend Srebrenica memorial ceremonies in a show of readiness to honor the victims and put the war past behind.

“I will represent a Serbia that is capable of admitting that certain individuals had committed crimes,” Vucic said at a news conference aired live on state television. “We must do that for our own sake.” However, he said, “there is no collective guilt.”

Vucic said the British resolution opened fresh divisions and “pushed us into the trenches of hatred.”

Bosnia’s U.N. Ambassador Mirsada Colakovic told The Associated Press that Russia had informed council members Tuesday morning of its intention to veto.

Council diplomats said U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, who was a journalist during the Bosnian war, and Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin were meeting, along with British diplomats, to discuss differences on the text.

The council vote, originally scheduled for Tuesday morning, was delayed until the afternoon and then postponed until 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) Wednesday because of continuing discussions on the text.

Russia has circulated a rival draft resolution which doesn’t mention either Srebrenica or genocide, but no vote has been scheduled on it.

Last week, Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Petr Iliichev called the British draft “divisive,” saying the Russian draft is “more general, more reconciling.”

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said in a July 2 letter to Mladen Ivanic, the Serb member and current chair of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, that the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia in 2004 and the International Court of Justice in 2007 both determined that the mass killings at Srebrenica were an act of genocide.

“That is not a political statement. It is a legal fact,” Rycroft wrote. “What happened in Srebrenica was the worst single crime in Europe since the Second World War.”

He stressed that any judgment of genocide deal with individuals, not an entire people, and he insisted that the resolution is not “anti-Serbian” as some have alleged.

___

Associated Press writers Aida Cerkez in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Jovana Gec in Belgrade contributed to this report.

TIME public health

1 in 3 People Worldwide Don’t Have Proper Toilets, Report Says

A clean-up volunteer scoops plastic waste at an open sewer in Manila on May 4, 2015. Non-governmental environmental groups are calling for national legislation to prevent plastic waste that clog waterways.
Jay Directo—AFP/Getty Images A cleanup volunteer scoops plastic waste at an open sewer in Manila on May 4, 2015. Nongovernmental environmental groups are calling for national legislation to prevent plastic waste that clog waterways

Lack of proper sanitation facilities increases risk of waterborne diseases

About 2.4 billion people — or roughly one-third of the world’s population — still lack access to proper toilets, according to a report published Tuesday by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

The study warns that progress on sanitation is falling short of the targets outlined in the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, even though significant improvements have been made in related areas including access to safe drinking water. Today, only 68% of the world’s population has access to proper sanitation facilities, a handful of percentage points short of the goal of 77%. Many of those who lack proper toilets and defecate in the open live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report.

“Until everyone has access to adequate sanitation facilities, the quality of water supplies will be undermined and too many people will continue to die from waterborne and water-related diseases,” said WHO public-health director Dr. Maria Neira in a statement.

The U.N. is expected to outline new Sustainable Development Goals in September, with a goal of expanding sanitation facilities and eliminating open defecation by 2030.

TIME faith

Inside Pope Francis’ U.S. Trip Schedule

Vatican Pope Francis'
Massimo Valicchia—NurPhoto/AP Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City, on June 24, 2015.

The schedule says a lot about Pope Francis' focus

Pope Francis’ schedule is almost always a political document. Everyone wants a piece of it, especially when it comes to his upcoming September trip to the U.S. The White House and Congress, not to mention outside groups, have been lobbying for months to try to influence his agenda. On Tuesday morning, the Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released the official schedule for the trip. Predictably, it is packed. Pope Francis will visit Cuba and the U.S. from Sept. 19-28—four days in Cuba, five in the U.S—and give a total of 26 addresses, 18 of them in the U.S.

The world has known the big-ticket items for months—a meeting with President Obama, an address to the U.S. Congress, a talk at the United Nations, and a mass in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. But the other events hold just as powerful a message. The logistics are often the key to understanding the entire agenda—where Pope Francis is, who he is with, where he is coming from and where he is going next say as much about his message as his words themselves.

This schedule shows the Pope’s diplomatic acumen from the start. Pope Francis comes to Washington only after giving first dibs to Cuba, an island that the U.S. had blackballed economically until he intervened in December. And, Pope Francis will fly directly from there to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington DC, symbolizing the new link he helped to forge between the two nations.

Once he has arrived in the U.S., Pope Francis establishes a pattern—he links political events with pastoral ones. His first full day in Washington, the Pope will meet with Obama at the White House, and then leave to hold midday prayer with the U.S. bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. It is tradition for the pope to gather the bishops when he visits, and leaving the White House for a church shows the value Francis places on the work of the church and its leaders.

The next day, immediately after speaking to the U.S. Congress, he will visit Catholic Charities, the social outreach ministry of the Archdiocese of Washington, which does extensive work to serve the area’s poor, homeless and immigrant communities. The juxtaposition is a not-so-subtle hint about who Pope Francis hopes political leaders will be—politicians who serve the poor, instead of staying isolated in the halls of power.

The pattern continues in New York, where Pope Francis will begin his time with an evening prayer service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral before addressing the U.N. the next morning. From there, he will—again—go directly to an interfaith service at the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center. It is another statement about the importance of solidarity, especially between Christians and Muslims in the face of global extremism. Pope Benedict visited Ground Zero to pray in 2008, but Francis is taking it to another level with an interfaith focus. He will then visit a Catholic elementary school in East Harlem, and celebrate mass in Madison Square Garden.

When Pope Francis goes to Philadelphia, the pattern shifts, but only slightly. The World Meeting of Families, a Catholic gathering of families every three years hosted this time in Philadelphia, was from the start the reason for his trip to the U.S. Here, Francis adds specifically political moments to a primarily pastoral visit. In addition to celebrating mass at the Cathedral Basilica, visiting the Festival of Families, and meeting the bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia’s largest prison, the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. What Pope Francis will do there remains to be seen, but his mere presence will both highlight high incarceration rates in the U.S. and make it hard to ignore the Catholic Church’s opposition to the death penalty.

The whole trip concludes with an outdoor mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where Pope John Paul II celebrated mass in 1979.

Francis’ schedule is like a liturgy. It is a roadmap to guide the desired focus of, and communal participation in, his message. And the places he has chosen—Catholic Charities in Washington, a school in Harlem, an interfaith service at Ground Zero, a prison in Philadelphia—will likely end up saying as much about what Francis’ focus is as anything else.

TIME Yemen

Yemen Crisis: 21 Million People Now in Urgent Need of Food, Humanitarian Aid

A Saudi-led blockade on maritime traffic has limited commercial goods from entering Yemen, forcing prices of food and fuel to skyrocket

The U.N. envoy to Yemen said Wednesday that the conflict-torn nation was “one step away from famine,” with nearly 80% of its population — 21 million people — in need of humanitarian aid.

Following a briefing of the bloc’s Security Council in New York, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said a cease-fire was a priority and called on all parties involved to broker a truce before the end of the Islamic holiday of Ramadan on July 17, reports Agence France-Presse. Peace talks between Yemen’s political parties, mediated by Ahmed, collapsed last week in the Swiss city of Geneva.

“While we pursue a sustainable long-term cessation of violence, I called on all the relevant parties to agree without delay to a humanitarian truce,” said Ahmed.

Yemen descended further into chaos in March when a Saudi-led coalition began bombing sorties to stop an advance by local Shi‘ite Houthi rebels. They want to restore the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to power, having driven incumbent President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi into exile.

Over the past three months alone, thousands of people have been killed or injured by air strikes and ground fighting, and 1 million more have been displaced, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Due to a coalition blockade of maritime traffic, commercial goods including food and medical supplies are only trickling into the country. Fuel and food prices have therefore skyrocketed, escalating the humanitarian disaster for Yemen’s citizens.

According to a joint survey by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme, 6 million people in the country are slipping toward severe hunger and desperately need emergency food and lifesaving assistance. A further 6.5 million people are facing a food security “crisis.”

Yemen officials in the southern port city of Aden have called on international aid organizations to deliver more medical supplies as more than 4,000 people have contracted the mosquito-borne and sometimes fatal disease dengue fever, reports al-Jazeera.

TIME India

On Your Marks, Get Set, Contort: 5 Things to Know About Modi’s Yoga Day Campaign

India Yoga
Ashwini Bhatia—AP Exile Tibetan children practice yoga at the Tibetan Children's Village School in Dharmsala, India, June 20, 2015.

The event, designed to break records, has generated controversy

On Sunday morning, the Indian capital New Delhi’s broadest and grandest avenue, Rajpath, will be covered in a sea of yoga mats, with some 35,000 people expected to indulge in mass physical contortions to mark the first International Day of Yoga—a pet initiative of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who pitched the idea to the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) in his maiden speech at the annual diplomatic confab in September. A formal UNGA resolution to establish an international yoga day was passed in December, with more than 170 countries co-sponsoring the move. Modi’s government has since gone all out to promote the first yoga day, calling its diplomatic corps into service to plan events in more than 190 countries, and releasing print and television advertisements featuring Indian celebrities.

But the government’s drive hasn’t been without controversy. As thousands limber up to mark the occasion, here are five things to know about Modi’s campaign to promote the ancient exercise regimen.

Modi has given India its first yoga minister—but he’s not the first national leader to embrace the discipline

As TIME noted in a 1956 cover story, the country’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, would start off each day with yoga exercises. And Nehru’s daughter, former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was a devotee of a high-profile and controversial yoga guru called Dhirendra Brahmachari who for a time promoted the discipline with broadcasts on state television (Brahmachari also gave lessons to Nehru, and counted a string of other prominent political leaders of his time as followers). In the late 1950s, backed by an education ministry grant, Brahmachari set up a center in New Delhi to promote yoga that was inaugurated by Nehru, according to a biography of Indira by Katherine Frank.

But Modi, in addition to taking his campaign to promote yoga to the world stage, has gone further and appointed a minister in his government dedicated to yoga and traditional medicine. He’s even linked the discipline to the fight against climate change. “Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition,” he told the UNGA in New York in September, adding: “By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change.”

His personal devotion to the discipline—he is said to spend 20 minutes each morning practicing yoga and meditation—is well known, with one aide recently telling the Reuters news agency that it was his way “to streamline his thoughts ahead of a grueling schedule.” Vladimir Putin, however, must have missed the reports of Modi’s devotion to yoga. When informed on the sidelines of an economic meeting in St. Petersburg that Modi had set up a ministry covering the ancient regimen, the Russian leader was reportedly incredulous at the news, asking: “Does Modi do yoga?”

Modi’s officials have been working to make the first yoga day an international spectacle, with events planned from New York to the world’s highest battlefield in the Himalayas

The event in New Delhi on Sunday morning is part of a massive global drive by the Modi government to promote the first yoga day. India’s foreign ministry is helping organize events in 192 countries, including the U.S., where India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, is due to attend an event at the U.N. headquarters in New York to mark the occasion. She will also call in at a mass yoga event in Times Square that is expected to be attended by 30,000 people, according to India’s national broadcaster.

Closer to home, India’s armed forces are also doing their bit to promote yoga, with plans for yoga sessions aboard the country’s warships, and even at the Indian military camp at the Siachen glacier in the Himalayan region. Often referred to as the world’s highest battlefield, both India and its longtime foe Pakistan have soldiers stationed there.

“Yoga is the soft power of India,” Swaraj told reporters at a press conference earlier this month. She wouldn’t be drawn out, however, on how much the international push would cost. “So far as the foreign countries are concerned, all our Missions have a publicity budget. Because this is a soft power India campaign, we are taking it forward,” she said. “So they will do it with their budget.”

The Indian government has its sights set on not one but two world records

With some 35,000 people expected to participate in the New Delhi event, the Modi government is attempting to set two world records, including the largest yoga lesson (the current record was set in India in 2005, when nearly 30,000 students from more than 360 schools participated in a yoga session in the central Indian city of Gwalior). It also wants to set a record for the number of nationalities involved in a single yoga lesson, a category it hopes to pioneer. To assess if the event passes muster, two adjudicators from Guinness World Records will be present at the New Delhi gathering, according to the Indian Express newspaper, which also reported that the government had appointed Ernst & Young as the “official auditor” for the event, charging the international accountancy firm with preparing a report for the Guinness officials.

But not everyone is pleased with the official push for yoga

Yoga is big business internationally, including in the U.S., where a recent survey showed that nearly 10% of adults and around 3% of children practiced the discipline in 2012. One 2012 study put the value of the market for yoga classes and related products in the U.S. at over $10 billion a year. For many, it is simply a way to get fit. But in India, some among the country’s minority groups have voiced concerns that the government’s enthusiasm for yoga was part of a drive to promote rituals linked to Hinduism—a charge rejected by the government and Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP).

A Hindu priest and BJP lawmaker called Yogi Adityanath added to the controversy earlier in June when he reportedly said that those who oppose a set of yoga postures known as Surya Namaskar—or salutations to the Sun God—should leave the country or drown themselves in the ocean. (Swaraj distanced herself from Adityanath’s remarks at her press conference earlier this month and said the Surya Namaskar was not part of a so-called “common yoga protocol” developed by the government ahead of the yoga day events.)

Modi won’t bring his yoga mat to Sunday’s gathering

Initial reports had suggested that Modi would himself perform yoga at the New Delhi event. But his foreign minister Swaraj told reporters that while the Prime Minister will address the gathering, he won’t participate in the yoga demonstrations himself.

His senior officials, however, have been told to brush up on their yoga postures. To achieve its world record, the government has issued a circular ahead of the event putting senior bureaucrats on notice to make sure they are flexible enough on the day, for “if officials turn up without practice and their performance is not up to the mark, we run the risk of the record claim in the Guinness Book of World Records being affected.”

TIME United Nations

There Have Never Been More Displaced People Across the World Than Now

If the number of displaced persons formed a nation, it would be the 24th largest country in the world

The total number of people forcibly displaced by war, conflict and persecution rose to a record 59.5 million at the end of 2014, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) has said.

The agency’s annual Global Trends Report: World at War, released Thursday, found forced displacement worldwide has reached unprecedented levels, with a record annual rise of 8.3 million more displaced people since 2013. Some 38.2 million of the total were internally displaced in their own countries.

If the number of displaced persons formed a nation, the report said, it would be the 24th largest country in the world.

Speaking in Turkey on Thursday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres confirmed worldwide displacement was at the highest ever recorded.

“When you see the news in any global network, we clearly get the impression that the world is at war,” he said. “Indeed many areas of the world are today in a completely chaotic situation and the result is this staggering escalation of displacement, the staggering escalation of suffering, because each displaced person is a tragic story,” he said.

Syria overtook Afghanistan to become the biggest source of refugees last year, with 1.77 million Syrians having fled the nation’s ongoing civil war.

Just over half of all refugees under UNHCR’s responsibility worldwide came from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. The report also pointed to new and continuing conflicts in South Sudan, Ukraine and Iraq, among others, which have caused suffering and widespread displacement.

Guterres warned that humanitarian organizations were “no longer able to clean up the mess.”

“U.N. agencies, NGOs, the Red Cross — we no longer have the capacities and the resources to respond to such a dramatic increase in humanitarian needs,” he said.

Turkey overtook Pakistan to become the nation hosting the most refugees in the world with 1.59 million people currently displaced within its borders. Guterres praised Turkey’s willingness to keep its frontiers open and called on richer countries to do more.

“That has a special meaning in a world where so many borders are closed or restricted,” he said. “And where new walls are being built or announced.”

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