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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: 59.5 million

Number of Refugees

There were 19.5 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2014, 14.4 million under the mandate of UNHCR, around 2.9 million more than in 2013.

The other 5.1 million Palestinian refugees are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

During the year, conflict and persecution forced an average of 42,500 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 2014, the country hosting the largest number of refugees was Turkey, with 1.59 million refugees. By the end of 2014, Syria had become the world’s top source country of refugees, overtaking Afghanistan, which had held this position for more than three decades. Today, on average, almost one out of every four refugees is Syrian, with 95 per cent located in surrounding countries.

Last year, 51% of refugees were under 18 years old. This is the highest figure for child refugees in more than a decade.

An estimated 13.9 million people were newly displaced due to conflict or persecution, including 2.9 million new refugees. By the end of 2014 the number of people assisted or protected by UNHCR had reached a record high of 46.7 million people. 

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

About 38.2 million people were forcibly uprooted people and displaced within their own country and are known as internally displaced people (IDPs).

Continued fighting in the Syrian Arab Republic brought the number of IDPs in that country to 7.6 million, the highest number anywhere in the world. With 6 million internally displaced persons registered by the Government by the end of 2013, Colombia too continued to face a large displacement situation.

Iraq witnessed massive new internal displacement as a result of the Islamic State (or ‘ISIS’) offensive across multiple parts of the country. In addition to the 1 million existing IDPs who had fled violence in previous years, at least 2.6 million persons were newly displaced during 2014, bringing the year-end figure to 3.6 million IDPs.

Renewed fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo displaced one million people, bringing the total number of IDPs in the country to 2.8 million. On the positive side, around 561,000 Congolese IDPs were able to return home during 2014.

In the Central African Republic, around 438,000 people remain internally displaced, half a million less than at the end of 2013.  

The conflict in South Sudan, which erupted in December 2013, displaced more than 1.5 million individuals within the country. Despite the return of some 200,000 IDPs during the year, the number of IDPs at the end of 2014 was estimated at 1.5 million.

Renewed conflict and security concerns in Afghanistan meant that by the end of 2014 the number of IDPs in that country was estimated at 805,000

Although millions of individuals were newly displaced during the course of 2014, others were able to return to their place of habitual residence. In Mali, for instance, some 155,000 IDPs were able to make their ways back home, leading to a significant drop in the overall IDP figure at year end (99,800). The Central African Republic (611,000), South Sudan (200,000), and Yemen (85,000) also reported high numbers of IDP returns.

Asylum-Seekers

At least 1.66 million people submitted applications for asylum in 2015, the highest level ever recorded. 

With an estimated 274,700 asylum claims, the Russian Federation became the largest recipient of new individual applications in 2014, followed by Germany (173,100), and the USA (121,200) . 

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 is continuing to work with states to improve the information available on stateless populations, and to reduce statelessness through the aquisition or confirmation of nationality. In 2014 UNHCR launched the Global Action Plan to End Statelessness: 2014 - 2016.  

For further information, please see the UNHCR 2014 Global Trends Report.

(Source: 2014 Global Trends Report)

About UNHCR

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: 9,300 (89% of whom are in the field)

Number of countries in which UNHCR is present: 125

(Source: UNHCR Staff Figures)

 

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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.