The number of people fleeing violence in Central America is now as great as during the armed conflicts of the 1980s, a new report found.
Released Monday by the U.N. Refugee Agency, the report stated that the number of refugees from the region has increased since 2015, with asylum seekers from El Salvador nearly doubling from 18,900 the previous year to 33,600 in 2016, making it the country in the area with the most number of people fleeing.
The majority of those leaving attempt to migrate to the United States, with 52 percent of asylum seekers entering the country from Mexico and Central America. The United States also made the list as the second-largest recipient of new asylum applications in 2016 with 262,000, which was a staggering 52 percent over the previous year, at 172,700 claims.
Assessing global figures, the report also found that in the last two decades, the number of forcibly displaced peoples nearly doubled, from 33.9 million in 1997 to 65.6 million in 2016, reaching a record high. The majority of this increase occurred between 2012 and 2015, largely due to the Syrian conflict, as well as strife elsewhere in Iraq and Yemen, in addition to parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
"By any measure, this is an unacceptable number," said Filipo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees.
Just in the last year, 10.3 million people were newly displaced by conflict or persecution. The findings peg the current number of those forcibly displaced as equivalent to 20 people being forced to flee their homes every minute of 2016, or 28,300 every day. And of this population, children make up more than half.
Of those forcibly displaced in this crisis-level surge, developing countries continue to host the majority of the world’s refugees, at 84 percent. Turkey topped the list of refugee-hosting countries for the third year in a row, followed by Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Uganda.