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Facts and Figures about Refugees

Facts and figures are vital to UNHCR for planning and preparedness. UNHCR’s full-time statisticians keep track of the number of people of concern to the Agency. These figures are released every June in the annual Global Trends report, while the Norwegian Refugee Council releases annual global figures for internally displaced people.

Number of forcibly displaced worldwide: 51.2 million

Number of Refugees

There were 16.7 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2013, 11.7 million under the mandate of UNHCR, around 1.2 million more than at the end of 2012.

The other 5 million Palestinian refugees are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

During the year, conflict and persecution forced an average of 32,200 persons per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere, either within the borders of their countries or in other countries.

Developing countries host over 86% of the world’s refugees, compared to 70% ten years ago.

In 2013, the country hosting the largest number of refugees remained Pakistan, with 1.6 million refugees. Afghanistan retained the position as the biggest source country, a position it has held for 33 years however, with 2.47 million refugees, Syria is now a close second. On average, one out of every four refugees worldwide is Afghan, with 95% located in Pakistan or Iran. 

Last year, 50% of refugees were under 18 years old. This was higher than in 2012 when it stood at 46%. 

An estimated 10.7 million people were newly displaced due to conflict or persecution, including 2.5 million new refugees- the highest number of new arrivals in one year since 1994 - and 8.2 million persons newly displaced within the borders of their own country, the highest figure on record.  

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

About 33.3 million people were forcibly uprooted people and displaced within their own country and are known as internally displaced people (IDPs).

Escalating conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic displaced an estimated 4.5 million persons in 2013, bringing the total number of IDPs in the country to 6.5 million by year end. With close to 5.4 million internally displaced persons registered by the Government by the end of 2013, Colombia too continued to face a large displacement situation.

Renewed fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo displaced close to one million people, bringing the total number of IDPs in the country to almost 3 million. On the positive side, around 595,200 Congolese IDPs were able to return home during 2013.

In the Central African Republic, fighting intensified in December 2013, displacing more than 844,000 persons. 

The conflict in Mali, which erupted in 2012, and displaced more than 227,000, continued in 2013, with an additional 111,000 persons uprooted. 

In Somalia 1.4 million were internally displaced at the end of 2013, and in Iraq 1.3 million (although 2014 has seen wide-scale new displacement). 


At least 1,067,500 people submitted applications for asylum in 2013. UNHCR offices registered and processed 19 per cent of these claims, compared to 13% in 2012.

With an estimated 109,600 asylum claims, the Germany was, for the first time since 1999, the largest recipient of new individual applications, followed by the USA (84,400), South Africa (70,000), France (60,200), and Sweden (54,300). 

Find out about asylum in the UK.

Stateless People

Statelessness refers to the condition of an individual who is not considered a national by any state. Although stateless people may sometimes also be refugees, the two categories are distinct and both groups are of concern to UNHCR. 

It’s almost impossible to determine the true number of stateless people. UNHCR estimates that statelessness affected up to at least 10 million people by the end of 2013. However, data captured by governments and communicated to UNHCR were limited to 3.5 million stateless individuals in 75 countries

(Source: 2013 Global Trends Report)

For further information, please see the UNHCR 2013 Global Trends Report.


Annual budget figures are compiled by the Donor Relations and Resource Mobilisation service, while the Division of Human Resources Management keeps details on personnel.

UNHCR regular staff members: 7,138

Staff members in the field: 6,275

Number of countries in which UNHCR is present: 123


(Source: 2013 Global Report)

Download pdf of key facts and figures relating to refugees


Download a PDF

Key Facts and Figures

How many refugees are there in the world? What are IDPs? In how many countries is UNHCR present?

What is the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker? How many refugees are there in the UK?


Asylum in the UK

What is the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker? How many refugees are there in the UK?

Global Trends Report 2011


2013 Global Trends Report

More people are refugees or internally displaced than at any time since 1994, with the crisis in Syria having emerged as a major new factor in global displacement. See the facts here.