The escalation in crises and numbers affected since the early 1990s has had a dramatic impact on the nutrition and health of refugees. The number of people affected by natural disasters increased from 50 million in 1980 to 250 million in 2000. Similarly, approximately 30 million people were affected by conflict each year during the 1990s in more than 60 countries. The number of refugees has steadily increased from approximately 5 million in 1980 to a peak of more than 20 million in 1994, with a slow decline by 2003 to approximately 10.4 million. This is primarily due to the fact that more refugees are repatriating than are being forced to leave their countries, and new refugee flows have declined. The large numbers of repatriated refugees from Afghanistan, Angola, and Sierra Leone have contributed to the reduction in the number of refugees. In addition to the large numbers of refugees, in 2003 UNHCR assisted approximately 5.8 million of the estimated 20-25 million IDPs worldwide.

The largest numbers of refugees are in Asia, which is also the region from which more than half the world's refugees originate. Included in this region is Afghanistan, which in 2001 accounted for an estimated 3.8 million refugees, or one-third of the global refugee population. Africa is the second largest refugee region. Approximately 48% of the UNHCR persons of concern are female, 12% are children younger than the age of 5 years, and half of the population is between 18 and 59 years of age (Figure 1).

Disaster Preparedness Kit

Disaster Preparedness Kit

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