FILE - Afghan refugees in Greece protest, demanding more rights for themselves, in central Athens, Aug. 22, 2017.
FILE - Afghan refugees in Greece protest, demanding more rights for themselves, in central Athens, Aug. 22, 2017.

The United Nations refugee agency says a record 68.5 million people around the world were forced to flee their homes last year due to war, violence and persecution.

Filippo Grandi, the world body's High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters in Geneva Tuesday that the final numbers for 2017 were nearly three million higher than in 2016.  He said more than 16 million people were newly displaced last year, due to ongoing, protracted conflicts and a lack of solutions to those conflicts that are putting "continuous pressure on civilians."

Grandi said more than two-thirds of all refugees originated from only a handful of countries, including Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He said the agency has discovered that 85 percent of all refugees came from poor or middle-income countries, which "should be an element dispelling the notion" this is "a crisis of the rich world."