Over 50 Million People Forcibly Displaced


Over 50 Million People Forcibly Displaced

23 Jun 2014

On World Refugee day, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide has, for the first time in the post-World War II era, exceeded 50 million people.

The figures are drawn from the UNHCR's annual Global Trends report, released on 20 June 2014 to coincide with World Refugee Day. The report is based on data complied by governments and non-governmental partner organisations, and from the organisations own records.

The report finds that in total there were 51.2 million people forcibly displaced at the end of 2013 - this is 6 million more than the 45.2 million reported in 2012.

It states that much of this increase can be attributed to the conflict in Syria, which at the end of 2013 had forced 2.5 million people into becoming refugees and additionally made 6.5 million internally displaced. The report also finds there was major new displacement in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.


Key Findings
  • By end of 2013, 51.2 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, generalised violence, or human rights violations;
  • 16.7 million persons were refugees;
  • The global figure includes 33.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and close to 1.2 million asylum-seekers;
  • If these 51.2 million persons were a nation, they would make up the 26th largest in the world;
  • An estimated 10.7 million individuals were newly displaced due to conflict or persecution in 2013. This includes 8.2 million persons newly displaced within the borders of their own country, the highest figure on record;
  • The other 2.5 million individuals were new refugees – the highest number of new arrivals since 1994;
  • During 2013, conflict and persecution forced an average of 32,200 individuals per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere, either within the borders of their own country or in other countries. This compares to 23,400 in 2012 and 14,200 in 2011;
  • Pakistan was host to the largest number of refugees worldwide (1.6 million), followed by the Islamic Republic of Iran (857,400), Lebanon (856,500), Jordan (641,900), and Turkey (609,900);
  • Developing countries hosted 86 per cent of the world's refugees, compared to 70 per cent 10 years ago. This is the highest value in more than two decades;
  • Lebanon hosted the largest number of refugees in relation to its national population, with 178 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants. This was the highest relative burden a country had been exposed to since 1980. Jordan (88) and Chad (34) ranked second and third, respectively;
  • More than half (53%) of all refugees worldwide came from just three countries: Afghanistan (2.56 million), the Syrian Arab Republic (2.47 million), and Somalia (1.12 million);
  • Close to 1.1 million individuals submitted applications for asylum or refugee status in 2013;
  • 25,300 asylum applications were lodged by unaccompanied or separated children in 77 countries in 2013, mostly by Afghan, South Sudanese, and Somali children. This was the highest number on record since UNHCR started collecting such data in 2006;
  • Children below 18 years constituted 50 per cent of the refugee population in 2013, the highest figure in a decade;
  • Over the course of 2013, 414,600 refugees returned to their countries of origin. Two-thirds of these returned to the Syrian Arab Republic (140,800), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (68,400), or Iraq (60,900). This figure was the fourth lowest level of refugee returns in almost 25 years.

You can read more from the UNHCR Global Trends 2013 here.

This article summarises an external report, and is not to be taken as the view of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. 

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