A snapshot of global refugee trends in 2013

Friday 20 June 2014Eleanor Dean

A snapshot of global refugee trends in 2013 - Blog - Refugee Action

Adam, a Sudanese refugee resettled to the UK by the UNHCR and supported by Refugee Action, walks his children home from school.

Every four seconds, someone is forced to flee.

That's one of the most shocking findings of this year's Global Trends report, published by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on World Refugee Day.

So, if you spend roughly one hour reading the 52-page report, by the UNHCR's estimate 900 people would have been forcibly displaced in the 60 minutes (or 3,600 seconds) it took you to finish it.

Other statistics from the report equally sobering.  Here are just a few of them:

  • At the end of 2013, there were 51.2 million displaced people worldwide (including 16.7 million refugees).  That's the highest figure since the end of the second world war and an increase of six million since 2012.
  • 32,200 people were forced to flee every day in 2013.  That's increased by approximately 20,000 since 2011, when it was 14,200.
  • There are an estimated 10 million stateless people across the globe - that's people who aren't recognised by any state.
  • 86% of the world's refugees are hosted by developing countries.
  • More than half (53%) of the world's refugees are from three countries: Afghanistan, the Syrian Arab Republic and Somalia.
  • An estimated 50% of all refugees are children. 
  • An estimated 49% of all refugees are women and girls.
  • In just five years (2009 - 2013) the Syrian Arab Republic went from being the second largest refugee hosting country to the second largest refugee source country.
  • The 1 millionth Syrian refugee child was registered in August 2013.
  • The number of unaccompanied refugee children in 2013 was the highest ever recorded - 25,300.
  • The top five countries for hosting refugees were Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.  The UK isn't in the top 20, and also doesn't make the top 20 list for "most refugees per 1 USD GDP" (where Pakistan comes top) or "most refugees per 1,000 inhabitants" (Lebanon).
  • The top five refugee source countries in the world were Afghanistan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • 1 out of every 5 refugees in the world is from Afghanistan, which has been the leading country of origin of refugees for 33 consecutive years.
  • 98,400 refugees were resettled to safe countries in 2013.  90% of these were accepted by the USA, Canada and Australia.  The UK accepted 970.
  • 33.3 million people were displaced within their own countries - the highest figure on record.
  • The top five countries for new asylum claims were Germany, the USA, South Africa, France and Sweden.  The UK came in 8th.
  • 1.2 million asylum seekers worldwide were waiting for an asylum decision at the end of 2013.
  • If displaced people were a nation, it would be the 26th largest in the world.

Read the full Global Trends report on the UNHCR website, and let us know which statistics surprised you the most in the comments.

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