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June 18th, 2010
11:05 AM ET

Wars prompt disturbing rise in refugees

Kathleen Newland
Special to CNN

Editor's note: Kathleen Newland is co-founder of the Migration Policy Institute and directs MPI's refugee protection program. She serves on the Board of the International Rescue Committee and is a former chair of the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children. The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan think tank in Washington that analyzes U.S. and global immigration policies and trends.

(CNN) - In just the past week, another 100,000 people have joined the rolls of the world's refugees; they were forced to flee violence in Kyrgyzstan across the border into Uzbekistan.

It is an inauspicious prelude to the observance of World Refugee Day on Sunday. But it is a timely reminder that more than 15 million refugees are looking to the world for help - first to survive and be safe, and then to find a resolution to their plight.

The number of people forcibly displaced from their homes reached 43 million by the end of 2009, the U.N. Refugee Agency reported this week. That's the highest number since the mid-1990s. About two-thirds are displaced inside their own countries, like the 300,000 Kyrgyz who fled this week but did not manage to cross the border into Uzbekistan.

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