The world's refugee crisis is pretty much worse than ever

GlobalPost
Syrian refugees cross under a barbed-wire fence into Hungary at the border with Serbia on Aug. 27, 2015.

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NEED TO KNOW:

The International Syria Support Group is meeting in New York today. This is a collection of countries that have high stakes in the war in Syria. It includes the United States, Russia, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as members of the Arab League and the European Union.

Notably absent is any representative from Syria.

It’s the third time this group has gotten together. Over the course of the first two meetings its members agreed on a road map to peace in Syria, which they hope will stem the flow of Syrian refugees into Europe and reduce the threat posed by the Islamic State.

The road map has Syria holding elections, overseen by the United Nations, in 18 months. That sounds ambitious. But the road map also includes a ceasefire by January, which is a couple weeks away. That seems nearly impossible at this point.

The goal of today’s meeting is to produce a UN Security Council resolution that supports the road map and the work of the International Syria Support Group. That might be hard though. There are still a bunch of issues that members can’t agree on, particularly Russia and the United States.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier this week the United States would no longer seek the immediate removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. That was a major concession to the Russians. But the question remains whether or not Assad will be allowed to run in these imagined elections a year and a half from now. There is also the issue of whether or not to recognize the Syrian opposition politically.

It will be a long day of negotiations. And even if the countries do all agree, they’ll have to get the Syrian government and opposition on board. And that’s a whole other thing.

WANT TO KNOW:

The UN refugee agency has released a report that details the state of the refugee situation around the world. In short, it’s worse than ever.

The report looks at mid-year trends. It says that if those trends continue through to the end of 2015, the number of those forcibly displaced will exceed 60 million for the first time in history.

Most of these refugees are coming from Syria. They are fleeing one of the most brutal civil wars of a generation. Half of Syria’s population has either been driven from their homes or killed. While most of the devastation has come at the hands of Assad’s military, there are also some 60 different countries in a coalition that is bombing targets all over the country.

In a separate report, the UN children's organization UNICEF says that some 16 million kids were born in conflict zones this year. That’s an eighth of all babies born. That can’t be good for the world.

STRANGE BUT TRUE:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is an “outstanding man.” He called Trump “unquestionably talented.” Trump has said that if he were elected he would talk to Putin to improve relations. Putin welcomed those comments.

During a three-hour news conference — an annual tradition for the Russian leader — Putin was asked about the prospects of having a new American president. Putin’s relationship with President Barack Obama has been pretty rough, which is no secret. Putin responded diplomatically before adding a classic dig about the United States. He said that Russia wouldn’t take a side in the American election, unlike the United States, which “always tries to tell us who to elect and who not to elect.”