Global Compact on Refugees
Indicator Report 2021
The first Global Compact on Refugees indicator report takes stock of progress towards the four objectives: ease pressures on host countries; enhance refugee self-reliance; expand access to third country solutions; and support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity. While better data are critically needed, the data available provide indications of progress as well as growing needs and challenges calling for an acceleration of the approach set out in the global compact.
The progress is measured through the GCR indicator framework published by UNHCR in 2019, which is composed of 15 indicators. It measures the progress since 2016; year of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and which forms an integral part of the Global Compact on Refugees.
“This report comes at an important time. In a world where displacement has continued to grow, durable solutions are in short supply, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt acutely in countries that host the largest populations of refugees, the message that emerges from data is clear. While much has been achieved, responsibility sharing must be stepped up to meet the challenges we are facing – both now and in the years to come, not least as we prepare for the medium to long-term impacts of the pandemic. The Global Compact on Refugees, with the multi-stakeholder approach and practical arrangements that it provides, is now more crucial than ever.”
Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
OVERALL SIZE AND EVOLUTION OF THE BURDEN AND RESPONSIBILITY
Globally, the scale of the burden and responsibility has continued to grow since 2016.
By the end of 2020, the total number of refugees was estimated at 26.4 million. There were 3.5 million more refugees under UNHCR’s mandate in 2020 than in the year of the adoption of the New York Declaration.
Nine out of ten refugees are hosted in countries with lower incomes.
By the end of 2020, 86 per cent of people displaced across borders (i.e., refugees and Venezuelans displaced abroad) lived in countries with developing economies. Twenty countries are hosting more than three-quarters of the world’s refugees. Sixteen of these countries were already in the top 20 list in 2016.
Top 20 countries hosting refugees and Venezuelans displaced abroad, in absolute terms, end-2016 and end-2020
EASE PRESSURES ON HOST COUNTRIES
The total volume of bilateral official development assistance (ODA) to refugee hosting countries with lower incomes increased.
Between 2016 and 2019, bilateral ODA to refugee situations in countries with developing economies increased by another 10 per cent, following a surge of 23 per cent from 2015 to 2016.
During the same period, ‘in-donor refugee costs’ (i.e., official sector expenditures for sustenance of refugees in donor countries during the first twelve months of their stay) decreased by 42 per cent, owing to fewer arrivals of asylum-seekers and refugees in donor countries and new rules narrowing the definition of what can be included in the calculation of in-donor refugee costs
Bilateral ODA to refugee situations in countries with developing economies and in-donor refugee costs counted as ODA, 2015-2021
ENHANCE REFUGEE SELF-RELIANCE
Three out of four refugees have access to work in law.
Out of the 11.2 million refugees covered by an UNHCR’s mapping of national legislations, 8.4 million refugees have either full (52%) or partial (23%) access to key attributes of decent work. In practice, due in part to high employment rates, informal economies, and the COVID-19 pandemic, far fewer refugees have access.
Proportion of refugees in surveyed countries with access to decent work in law, 2021
Almost half of refugee students are still out of school, and refugee girls are less likely to have access to education than refugee boys.
Around 1.8 million children are out of school, out of a total of 4 million school-age children in countries surveyed by UNHCR.
Gross enrolments ratios by sex, 2019/2020
Following two decades of progress, global poverty has been risen again with the pandemic-related economic downturn, pushing 100 million into extreme poverty, including many refugees and host communities.
Limited data used in this first GCR indicator report show that around two-thirds of refugees live in poverty before the pandemic. However, assistance provided by humanitarian agencies, development partners, and Governments has been shown to mitigate or reduce exposure to poverty among refugees. In 2020, UNHCR delivered USD 695 million in cash assistance to some 8.5 million people in over 100 countries, 95 per cent of whom reported improvements in living conditions.
More refugees found a solution between 2016 and 2020 than in the previous five years.
There were 2.8 million refugees to have found a solution during the period. This was 435,000 more than in the previous five years (2011-2015). However, in 2020, 16 million refugees were in protracted situations – four million more than in 2016, and only one refugee in 100 found a solution. The pandemic has exacerbated a downward trend that started earlier.
Refugees accessing durable solutions, 2010-2020
SUPPORT CONDITIONS IN COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN FOR RETURN IN SAFETY AND DIGNITY
From 2016 to 2020, voluntary returns accounted for almost three-quarters of all solutions.
More than 2 million refugees have returned to their country of origin since 2016 compared to 1.8 million between 2011 and 2015.
Top 10 countries for refugee returns, 2016-2020
EXPAND ACCESS TO THIRD COUNTRY SOLUTIONS
Between 2016 and 2020, close to 1.4 million refugees accessed third country solutions – more than during the previous five years.
Between 2016 and 2020, some six per cent or 286,900 more refugees accessed third country solutions, compared to the previous five years. They totalled 1.37 million at the end of 2020. After a peak in 2016, a downward trend in admissions can be observed, with a record low in 2020.
The gap between resettlement needs and resettlement departures is widening further.
Over 1.4 million refugees need to be urgently resettled in 2021, an increase of 25 per cent compared to 2016. Four refugees are admitted through complementary pathways for everyone refugee admitted through resettlement with UNHCR assistance.
Identified resettlement needs against actual UNHCR-assisted resettlement departures, 2016-2021 (July)
There was tangible progress towards the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees during the period under review. However, new increases in the scale of the burden and responsibility and several trends show the need for more equitable and predicable sharing. There are urgent needs for more third country opportunities; targeted support to enhance self-reliance of refugees and host communities; more assistance to refugee hosting countries with lower incomes; and addressing root causes to enabling conditions favourable to voluntary repatriation. While the application of the GCR indicator framework has triggered new data collection and analysis, it has also revealed important data gaps and a critical need to strengthen the implementation and scope of the framework.
“The Global Compact on Refugees is already making a difference in the lives of refugees and host communities. We need to work together more concertedly to address the remaining data gaps so that we can continue to improve and refine delivery and support to refugees and host communities, and ensure greater responsibility and burden sharing amongst the international community.”
Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees