Oslo: The number of people forced from their homes by conflict around the world has risen to nearly 44 million, the highest level in a decade, a report by the Norwegian Refugee Council said.
The number of people displaced inside their own country as a result of conflict stood at 27.5 million in 2010 while a further 16.2 million fled their homeland, according to the report, published to mark World Refugee Day.
The 43.7 million people include civilian populations which fled in previous years but which have still not returned home.
Half of those classified as internally displaced are concentrated in five countries -- Colombia, Sudan, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. Sixty per cent of the refugees come from the Palestinian Territories, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and the DR Congo, the report said.
"We can find no grounds for optimism," said the organisation's secretary-general Elizabeth Rasmusson.
"The numbers are rising and there is nothing to indicate that the situation is going to be reversed," she told the TV2 Nyhetskanalen network.
The number of people internally displaced by conflict rose by 400,000 compared to 2009 and the number of refugees by 100,000.
Natural disasters, mostly due to extreme weather, also led to the displacement of more than 42 million people in 2010, a figure 2.5 times higher than for the previous 12 months, according to another recent report by the same organization.