Refugees Now Make up 1 Percent of the World's Population

The number of refugees is currently at the highest its been in recorded history with around 68 million people currently displaced, according to an annual report.

The Global Peace Index 2018 estimates for the first time, refugees now make up almost 1% of the global population—a greater figure than the population of the U.K, and France.

According to the report, the number of refugees and internally displaced people has been increasing steadily since the 1970s but began to "rise dramatically" in the early 2000s and currently shows "no sign of abating."

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that in 2005, six people were displaced every minute somewhere in the world, a figure that rapidly increased to 24 per minute a decade later.

The Middle East and North Africa are the areas that have been responsible for the most refugees over the last decade as a result of "prolonged conflicts with little respite" in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.

The report, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) and described as the "leading measure of global peacefulness," also notes how increasing number of refugees has had a knock-on effect across Europe and the U.S.

"Unrest and conflict in the Middle East have led to the highest levels of refugee flows in Europe since World War II, causing significant social upheaval," the reports said.

Rohingya Muslim refugees who were stranded after leaving Myanmar walk towards the Balukhali refugee camp after crossing the border in Bangladesh's Ukhia district on November 2, 2017. DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images

"This has occurred in conjunction with a significant increase in terrorist activity, deteriorating employment conditions and a stagnation in wages. This has led to a backlash against immigration.

"Similarly, in the U.S. heightened fears of terrorism have also led to increased discussions and political tensions around immigration.

"Increased political, cultural, and social tensions have begun to spill over into incidents of violence. For example, in the months following Brexit, violence against immigrants spiked, and violent assaults on both sides of the asylum seekers debate in continental Europe have received significant press attention.

"In the US, the rise of far-right groups and concerns over police violence have been central to heightened tensions and violent clashes in many cities."

Elsewhere, the report found that global level of peace has deteriorated by 0.27% in the last year—the fourth year in a row there has been deterioration. According the findings, the world is less peaceful today than at any time in the last decade.

According to the report, the U.S. is currently ranked 121st safest in the country in the world, up one place from last year. The report said the U.S.'s current position is driven by "increased political instability," despite reductions in the impact from terrorism and militarization.

Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Iraq and Somalia are ranked the most dangerous countries in the world, while Iceland, New Zealand, Austria, Portugal and Denmark are the most peaceful.

Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of the IEP, said: "We have progressed on many fronts in the last decade but reaching greater peacefulness in the world has remained elusive. The challenge is borne out in our research which shows that it is much harder to build peace than it is to destroy it. This partly explains why countries at the bottom of the index remain trapped in prolonged conflict.

"Ongoing conflicts such as those in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan have, in the past decade, contributed towards a significant rise in battlefield deaths, a surging refugee population and an increase in terrorism.

"Europe, the most peaceful region, has also suffered with 23 of the 36 countries deteriorating in peace in the last year, which is predominately the result of increasing political tensions and deteriorating relations between countries."