11 Heart-Wrenching Pictures Bring Refugee Crisis to Life

There are more refugees than ever, the UN reported Thursday. These photos show the human element of a global crisis.

The number of refugees around the world has reached an all-time high, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). By the end of 2014, nearly 60 million people had fled their homes due to violence and persecution.

That number, up from last year’s figure of 51 million, represents the largest annual increase in displaced people on record. It includes both refugees who have left their country and the internally displaced, who have fled to a different part of their country.

These photos capture people at the center of the crisis, many of them fleeing conflicts in countries such as Syria, the Ukraine, and South Sudan. With war and tension continuing to roil those nations, the UN predicts that the number of displaced people will only continue to rise.