10 Facts About Refugees

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, provides you with 10 important facts on refugees – for a fact-based discussion.

Refugees, asylum-seekers and displacement have in recent years become a hot topic in the political and public debate. Nevertheless, the topic is surrounded by myths and, too often, lack of facts.

Download our ‘10 Facts About Refugees‘.

Fact #1

Global displacement is at a record high with conflicts becoming more violent and protracted, and root
causes more complex. At the end of 2018, 70.8 million were forcibly displaced as a result of  persecution, conflict, violence, and human rights violations. Double the amount compared to 20 years ago.

Fact #2

80% of refugees are hosted by countries neighboring their countries of origin, including some of the world’s poorest countries – which host one third of all refugees. Only 16% of the world’s refugees are hosted in the rich and developed parts of the world.

Fact #3

Violence, threats, human rights violations as well as lack of food, medicine and basic services have led to the largest displacement crisis in recent Latin American history. More than 4 million Venezuelans have left their country since 2015. Although the majority need international protection, only around half a million of Venezuelans who have left have taken the step to formally apply for asylum.

Fact #4

While 25,9 million refugees have fled their countries, there are 41,3 million internally displaced persons who have fled within their own countries. Even if they have not crossed a border, their protection and humanitarian needs are often similar to those of refugees. The countries with the largest population of internally displaced people are Colombia, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Fact #5

The number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean and arriving in Europe has  decreased substantially. In 2018, a total of 141,472 people arrived in Europe, compared to 1,032,408 people in 2015. Despite the 86% decrease in arrivals, the death rate on the Mediterranean has tragically gone up. Last year, on average 6 people lost their lives every day in their attempts to reach Europe.

Fact #6

Altogether, more than two-thirds of all refugees worldwide come from just five countries, with Syrian refugees accounting for almost one-third of the world’s refugee population, followed by Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. In Somalia, the violent conflict forcing people to flee their homes has lasted for almost 30 years.

Fact #7

As the number of vulnerable refugees, whom UNHCR estimates cannot receive adequate protection in their current host country, is growing, the need for places for resettlement is urgent. In 2019,  UNHCR estimates that 1.4 million refugees are in need of resettlement. However, only 92,400 resettlement places were provided by 25 states in 2018.

Fact #8

Half of the refugee population worldwide are children and youth below the age of 18, more than
110,000 are separated from their families. In 2018, 27,600 unaccompanied and separated children sought asylum in countries around the world. Forced displacement has severe consequences for
children’s education opportunities, and currently 3.7 million refugee children are out of school.

Fact #9

More than 60% of the world’s refugees live in towns and cities, where they often have a better chance
to earn a living, go to school and build a new life. However, while camps are only intended as temporary solutions in emergencies, many refugees still end up spending decades in temporary shelters around the world due to the lack of alternative solutions.

Fact #10

The right to seek asylum in another country for those who have lost the protection of their own country, is enshrined in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Refugee Convention is the first treaty which turned the ideals of the Declaration into legally binding obligations. It is therefore not a crime to seek asylum, even if the person has entered the country irregularly.