How many refugees are there around the world?
At least 79.5 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. Among them are nearly 26 million refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18.
There are also millions of stateless people, who have been denied a nationality and lack access to basic rights such as education, health care, employment and freedom of movement.
At a time when 1 per cent of the world’s population have fled their homes as a result of conflict or persecution, our work at UNHCR is more important than ever before.
Our workforce is the backbone of UNHCR. As of 31 May 2020, we employ 17,324 people, of whom around nearly 90 per cent are based in the field.
We work in 135 countries, with personnel based in a mixture of regional and branch offices and sub and field offices. Our teams work hard to help the displaced, specializing in a wide range of disciplines, including legal protection, administration, community services, public affairs and health.
How is UNHCR funded
We are funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, with 86 per cent from governments and the European Union. Three per cent comes from other inter-governmental organizations and pooled funding mechanisms, while a further 10 per cent is from the private sector, including foundations, corporations and the public. Additionally, we receive a limited subsidy (one per cent) from the UN budget for administrative costs, and accept in-kind contributions, including items such as tents, medicines and trucks*.
UNHCR was launched on a shoestring annual budget of US$300,000 in 1950. But as our work and size have grown, so too have the costs. Our annual budget rose to more than US$1 billion in the early 1990s and reached a new annual high of US$8.6 billion in 2019. For up to date information about UNHCR’s financial needs visit our Global Focus website.
Our yearly budget supports continuing operations and supplementary programmes to cover emergencies, such as the Syria crisis or large-scale repatriation operations.
Data on forced displacement and stateless populations
We track the number of people forced to flee and use data and statistics to inform and optimize our work and the work of our partners to better protect, assist and provide solutions. So when for example a major displacement crisis erupts, we can predict how many people need help, what kind of help they need and how many staff we must deploy.
For statistics and operational data that are essential for UNHCR operations, we collect and process data in a number of different systems that are fit for purpose. Our Population Statistics Database, for example, carries information on country of asylum, country of origin and demographics on people of concern to UNHCR – refugees, asylum seekers, returned refugees, internally displaced and stateless people.
For more information on how and why UNHCR collects population figures, including links to our databases, visit our data page.
*In-kind donations are generally not applicable to UNHCR in Hong Kong. For enquiries, please contact [email protected].