About 51.2 million people were forcibly displaced, six million higher than the year before, the UNHCR said.
Conflicts in Syria, central Africa and South Sudan fuelled the sharp increase, while enduring violence in Afghanistan and Somalia has also continued to feed the numbers.
Of the figure, there are 33.3 million internally displaced people, who have been forced to flee their homes, but remain inside their own countries.
Afghanistan is the largest refugee-producing country, followed by Syria and Somalia, which together account for half the global total.
Neighboring Pakistan is the world’s top refugee host, with an estimated 1.6 million.