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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 02:46 GMT 03:46 UK
UN report 'finds fewer refugees'
Afghan refugees at Makaki camp
Numbers are down, but attitudes have got worse, says the UNHCR
A new UN report is expected to show that the number of refugees in the world is dropping.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will publish its global survey of the situation over the past five years later on Wednesday.

"Human Displacement in the New Millennium" is also likely to show that refugees have a more difficult time.

The report will say that attitudes around the world are hardening against those forced to flee their countries.

The number of refugees in the world has been declining slowly but steadily, the report finds.

With peace in the former Yugoslavia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and southern Sudan, substantial numbers have been able to return home.

And in the past five years there have been fewer of the conventional wars between states which force people to flee across international borders.

But the UNHCR and other humanitarian organisations have been complaining for some time that, paradoxically, there has been a general hardening of hearts towards those who are still being driven from their countries.

Fear and suspicion of foreigners has grown since the attacks on the World Trade Center, says the BBC's Elizabeth Blunt.

There has been a general blurring of distinctions between refugees and asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and economic migrants, and this has worked against genuine refugees.


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