UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - About 66 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide and weak international cooperation and solidarity are behind the rising numbers, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, said on Thursday.
Grandi, speaking to the United Nations Security Council, said the number of displaced is up from 42 million in 2009, the last time one of his predecessors addressed the 15-member group.
"The sharp rise in forced displacement reflects weaknesses in international cooperation and declining capacity to prevent, contain and resolve conflicts," Grandi said.
The ongoing conflict in Syria and violence in Iraq account for about a fourth of those currently displaced, Grandi said, adding that a combination of poverty, lack of development, environmental degradation, inequality and persecution combine in poorly governed parts of the world to trigger more crises.
He highlighted the importance of the U.N.'s peace-keeping missions, whose role he called "critical."
Grandi criticized countries with closed borders and hurdles to asylum access and said some are "often those least impacted by refugee flows, and often wealthy."
Last month, Grandi singled out Europe, the United States, and Australia for increasingly unwelcoming policies. [nL8N1MD24C]
"Many refugee-hosting states, particularly those neighboring conflict zones, keep their borders open and generously host thousands – sometimes millions – of refugees," he said.
Grandi asked the Security Council to find political solutions that could prevent even more people from being displaced.
"They, the uprooted people," Grandi said, "are counting on your leadership to help deliver those solutions."
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Leslie Adler)