The number of people driven from their homes by conflict and crisis has topped 50 million for the first time since World War II, with Syria hardest hit, the UN refugee agency said.
The UNHCR said there were 51.2 million forcibly displaced people at the end of 2013, a full six million higher than the previous year.
The protracted Syria conflict was largely to blame for the increase, it said in its annual report, released on World Refugee Day.
Since the war began in March 2011, a total of 2.5 million people have fled Syria, with 6.5 million more displaced inside the country.
The Central African Republic and South Sudan crises also sparked new waves of displacement.
“We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending wars, of failing to resolve or prevent conflict,” said UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres.
“Peace is today dangerously in deficit. Humanitarians can help as a palliative, but political solutions are vitally needed. Without this, alarming levels of conflict and the mass suffering that is reflected in these figures will continue,” he warned.
The spiralling numbers have huge implications for aid budgets, and place massive strains on nations on the front-lines of refugee crises, the UNHCR said.
Its data covers three groups: refugees, asylum-seekers, and the internally displaced.
Refugee numbers reached 16.7 million people worldwide, the highest since 2001.