Refugee numbers have decreased by 12% in 2005, the fifth consecutive year in which the global refugee population has dropped.
   
In an editorial released for World Refugee Day, Antonio Guterres, the UNHCR chief, said that while global refugee figures had dropped 31% since 2001, returnees often face a bleak future. He urged greater focus on ensuring countries moved forwards after conflict.

"The international community owes returning refugees more than just a cooking pot and a handshake when they cross the border," he said.

"We must continue to nurture their return and reintegration and to support the communities to which they are returning."

Here is a list of major refugee populations at the end of 2005 ahead of World Refugee Day on Tuesday:
   

Country of Origin         Asylum                          Population
   
Afghanistan             Pakistan/Iran                2,414,695
Sudan                     Chad/Uganda                   730,914
Burundi                   Tanzania/Democratic         485,506
                              Republic of Congo
Democratic              Tanzania/Zambia              461,248 
Republic of Congo
Somalia                   Kenya/Yemen                  390,026
Palestinian              Saudi Arabia/Egypt           349,828
Territories*
Vietnam                  China/Germany                 348,446
Liberia                    Guinea/Ivory Coast           336,115
Iraq                         Iran/Germany                   312,480
Azerbaijan              Armenia/Germany              250,911

   
* Does not include about four million Palestinian refugees living in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
   
Source: The UN Refugee Agency (
www.unhcr.org)