One million displace people have tried to cross the Mediterranean - UN report

More than 60 million people today have been forcibly displaced from their homes

A new United Nations report claims there are more refugees worldwide today than ever before.

The head of the UN's Refugee Agency, António Guterres says numbers have reached levels "unseen since the end of the Second World War, with close to 60 million forcibly displaced by the end of 2014". 

Mid-year trends show we topped last year's total of 19 million displaced people in just six months and the numbers look set to rise.

The statistics also reveal that almost a million migrants attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea in 2015, while international asylum applications are up 78%.

The United Nations is blaming conflicts in countries like Syria which are forcing people to flee their homes.

Jerry O'Connor from the Immigrant Council of Ireland says we need a Minister for Integration to ensure a fair society:

"That includes everything from access to education, access to schools, being involved in democracy - how many of the 100,000 people who have become Irish citizens since this government was elected will take part in the next election. So we need to ensure that when people come to this country they will become part of Irish society. And we believe the best way to do that is to have a Minister for Integration."

Political will

Meanwhile, Guterres - who will step down from his agency at the end of this year - has called for a better understanding of the root causes of displacement.

He also flagged a need for renewed political will and leadership to protect and find solutions for those who have been forced to flee and a focus on sustainable development, good governance, rule of law and human rights to prevent the need for flight and to achieve sustainable solutions.

"Leadership and political will are essential to end the violent conflicts that have displaced tens of millions of people and to finally tame the progression of global warming," Guterres said. "But meanwhile, development cooperation also has a key role to play in efforts to address the root causes of displacement."