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9 Shocking Facts about Refugees and Forced Displacement

Thousands of people flowed from Syria across the Peshkhabour border crossing into Iraq’s Dohuk Governorate © UNHCR/G.Gubaeva
Thousands of people flowed from Syria across the Peshkhabour border crossing into Iraq’s Dohuk Governorate © UNHCR/G.Gubaeva

World Refugee Day is over.

We have already paid lip service and commemorated the courage of refugees around the world. It is someone else's problem now.

Here are 9 facts about refugees and their forced displacement to remind everyone that the problem is still all around us.

1. UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report showed that 1 in every 97 people are affected by forced displacement, with fewer and fewer of those who flee being able to return home.

2. At least 100 million people were forced to flee their homes and seek refugee either in or outside their countries over the past 10 years. That's equal to the entire population of the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Uruguay, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore combined!

3. Forced displacement has almost doubled since 2010 from 41 million then to 79.5 million now. UNHCR has not seen a higher total.

4. 80 per cent of the world’s displaced people are in countries or territories affected by acute food insecurity, malnutrition, climate and other disaster risk.

5. More than three-quarters of the world’s refugees (77 per cent) are caught up in situations of long-term displacement. The situation in Afghanistan alone has gone on for 50 years.

6. More than eight of every 10 refugees (85 per cent) are in developing countries, generally a country neighbouring the one they fled.

7. Five countries account for two-thirds of people displaced across borders. They are Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar.

8. Forced displacement nowadays is no longer a short-term and temporary phenomenon. In the 1990s, on average 1.5 million refugees were able to return home each year. Over the past decade that number has fallen to around 385,000, meaning that growth in displacement is today far outstripping solutions. Refugees now live in a state of upheaval for years on end.

9. Nobody is a refugee by personal choice. They have no chance of going home. They have no hope of building a future. We need a more accepting attitude towards all who flee and their immense suffering.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today appealing to countries worldwide to do far more to find homes for millions of refugees and others displaced by conflict, persecution or events seriously disturbing public order.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) works to ensure that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge, having fled violence, persecution, war or disaster at home. It helps to save lives and build better futures for millions forced from home.


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