UNHCR teachers' toolkit

  1. Words matter
  2. Facts and figures about refugees
  3. UNHCR media materials and reports
  4. Teaching materials
  5. Including refugees in your classroom

Words matter

Understanding the terms refugees, migration and asylum begins with understanding a few basics. The word refugee is often used as a blanket term for people displaced by war, violence or persecution. But there are different categories of displaced people, each with specific needs.

Watch these explainer animations as a preparation for your lesson or training. Choose which sections you need, and download them for  your own teaching resources.


Refugees are people fleeing conflict or persecution.


Migrants are people moving to another country for other reasons beyond conflict and persecution.

Internally displaced people

Internally displaced people are seeking safety in other parts of their country.


Asylum-seekers are people seeking international protection from conflict and persecution.


Returnees are people who have returned home after being displaced.

Stateless people

Stateless people do not have the nationality of any country.

Where do refugees come from?

Refugees come from countries all over the world. More than half come from Syria and Afghanistan and Somalia.

Where do refugees go?

Most refugees are in developing countries. They tend to stay in neighbouring countries.

Refugee rights

Refugees cannot be sent back to their country if this puts them in danger.

Who helps refugees?

UNHCR, governments and many other organizations help refugees. You can help too.

Facts and figures about refugees

Finding the right facts and figures about refugees and migrants can be a challenge for teachers. There is a plethora of information available on the internet from thousands of sources. However, the information provided is not always verifiable, complete or up-to-date.

UNHCR keeps detailed, up-to-date statistics and data on refugees, asylum-seekers, IDPs and stateless people. Here you will find a selection of downloads and media materials you may find useful for your lessons.


How many people are displaced?

More than 68 million people are displaced today. This is the highest number since the end of WWII. Find out more on this fact sheet.


Where do refugees come from?

More than two-thirds of the world's refugees come from just five countries. Find them on this map.

StatisticsUNHCR Statistics

Where are refugees?

Almost 9 out of 10 refugees are in the developing world. Most are in neighbouring countries. Find the numbers on this map.


More than 68 million people are displaced today. But what does such a large number really mean? Here are a few figures. Download the fact  sheets for use in your classroom.

One person forced to flee every two seconds

Case study about Rohingya refugees: how many are children, men or women?

One person in 110 is forced to flee

About half of the world’s refugees are children who are often very vulnerable. They are five times more likely to be out of school. This puts them at risk of missing out on an education, which could affect them for the rest of their lives. Here are a few figures about refugee children.

Primary enrollment rates

Secondary enrollment rates

Higher education enrollment rates

For many refugees, education remains out of reach


UNHCR media materials and reports

If you want to read more about refugees, asylum and migration to prepare your lessons, you can read UNHCR’s main publications and on-line resources on refugees, asylum and migration. Some of these materials may also be used for research assignments for children in higher secondary education.

UNHCR Data Portal

UNHCR's facts and figures website on refugee emergencies. Click on the locators to view the latest maps, tables and graphics on refugee emergencies.

Left Behind: Refugee Education in Crisis

More than 3.5 million refugee children were out of school in 2016. Read about the situation of refugee children in UNHCR's Left Behind report.

UNHCR multi-media

If you are looking for a compelling video, web article, photo report or other multi-media story on refugees, please visit UNHCR's multi-media channels.

Teaching materials

Here you can find teaching materials about refugees, asylum, migration and statelessness for all age groups in primary and secondary education.

Click on the age category and find lesson plans, activity guides, videos and other materials to use in your class.

Including refugees in your classroom

With forced displacement at a record high since World War II, many teachers now have refugees or asylum-seekers in their classroom. Teaching newcomers often comes with specific needs relating to language acquisition and adaptation to a new culture and environment. Some refugee children may suffer from stress or trauma preventing them from participating fully in school activities, and requiring specific support.

Below you will find some professional guidance to support you

Effects of stress and trauma on children

Executive function is often compromised when children experience stress and trauma. This video by Harvard University 's Center on the Developing Child explains some challenges that children suffering from stress and trauma may experience.

Successfully including children experiencing stress and trauma in your classroom

This guide provides guidance on including these children in your class and school.

Understanding language acquisition

Guidance on how to optimise language learning environments for non-native speaking children.