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[Perspectives] Flight from despair

One out of every 113 people in the world is either an asylum seeker, a refugee, or internally displaced, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The war in Syria, now in its sixth year, is a major driver of these numbers and the acute distress of those immediately affected by the conflict—an estimated 6·5 million internally displaced, 5 million Syrian refugees in host countries in the region, and about 1 million seeking refuge in Europe and elsewhere. Yet in the past 5 years millions of other people have also been leaving home to improve their chances of survival, driving the total numbers beyond the 50 million found after World War 2 in Europe (long considered the historical high mark) to more than 65 million in 2017.