This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Refugees and the Mess in the Middle East

Today is World Refugee Day at the United Nations, but this is never a day for celebration. This year's report from UNHCR, based on data for displaced persons as of the end of 2013, reveals that there are more refugees (including asylees and internally displaced persons) than at any other time since the end of World War II--51.2 million. Now, to be sure, the world's population is almost three times larger now, but that is still an awful lot of people living in generally miserable circumstances, as BBC News notes:
In Syria alone there are thought to be 6.5 million displaced people. The conflict has uprooted many families not once but several times. Their access to food, water, shelter and medical care is often extremely limited, and because they remain inside a conflict zone, it is hard for aid agencies to reach them.
Throughout the Syrian crisis, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey have kept their borders open. Lebanon now hosts more than a million Syrian refugees, meaning a quarter of its total population is Syrian. The pressure on housing, education and health is causing tensions in a country which itself has a recent history of conflict.
The UN data serve as a reminder, though, that other conflicts have generated huge numbers of refugees in central Africa and south Asia. Indeed, as the graph below shows, Afghanistan still accounts for the greatest number of refugees in the world, and thus its neighbor Pakistan hosts more refugees than any other nation. It is not a wonder that this region continues to be a hotbed of trouble.

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