About 7.6 million people became refugees in 2012—that's one every 4.1 seconds—bringing the total number of displaced people in the world to 45.2 million, the highest figure since 1994, reports al-Jazeera. A new report from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says Syria is a "major new factor" in the increase, though the number one source of refugees is Afghanistan (as it has been for 32 years), followed by Somalia and Iraq, reports BBC. But Syria, at No. 4, could climb into the top three in 2013, with one million fleeing in the last six months and a further two million expected to leave by year's end.
"These truly are alarming numbers. They reflect individual suffering on a huge scale and they reflect the difficulties of the international community in preventing conflicts and promoting timely solutions for them," says UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres. The report also found developing countries are now housing 81% of the world's refugee population, up from 70% 10 years ago. "So when we see discussion sometimes that [exists] about refugees in many developed countries, I think it's good to remind public opinion in those countries that refugees are not people fleeing from poor countries into rich countries in search of a better life," says Guterres. (Read more Syria stories.)