Statistics on Refugees

Content

1. Numbers of refugees
2. Geographical breakdown
2.1. Origin countries
2.2. Destination countries
3. Internally displaced persons (IDPs)

1. Numbers of refugees

Estimating the numbers of refugees is difficult. These numbers fluctuate from year to year and even from month to month because refugee flows are caused by war, civil unrest, drought and other events that do not occur regularly or with the same intensity over time. For example, Iraq used to be a major source of refugees during and after the invasion by the U.S., but now, with the troubles in Syria, it is actually receiving refugees. The war in Syria has produced more than 300.000 refugees in 2012. There are now (Feb 24, 2014) 2.5 million Syrian refugees. On the same day in 2013 the number was 756,157. Syria was only the 20th most important source country in 2010; it now (March 2014) occupies the top place.

Hence the habit of giving end-of-year numbers. Those remove at least the in-year fluctuations.

If we include internally displaced persons (IDPs), there were more than 45.2 million people in situations of displacement at the end of 2012 and more than 50 million in 2013, compared to 42.5 million at the end of 2011:

20140621_gdc194

(source)

forced displacement refugees and IDPs

(source)

All these numbers are underestimates because they don’t include the 5 million Palestinians refugees looked after in some 60 camps in the Middle East by United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which was set up in 1949 to care for displaced Palestinians.

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2. Geographical breakdown

refugees by host country and by country of origin

(source)

2.1. Origin countries

Three quarters of refugees come from Asia and Africa. The top refugee producing countries are:

source countries of refugees

For comparison, 2011 data:

source countries of refugees

(source)

War remains the dominant cause. 55 percent of all refugees in 2012 come from just five war-affected countries: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan.

The situation in Syria is currently (beginning of 2014) very difficult. The total number of Syrian refugees has now  surpassed 2.5 million. 50% of them are children.

large

(SOURCE)

syrian refugees

(SOURCE UNKNOWN, CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

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As these numbers change quickly in proportion with ongoing conflicts, it’s useful to view some older numbers as well:

refugee producing countries

(source)

These are end of 2010 figures:

where refugees come from

(source, where you can find an interactive version)

refugees by origin 2010

(source)
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2.2. Destination countries

Developing countries host 81 percent of the world’s refugees compared to 70 percent a decade ago.

large

refugee hosting countries

refugee hosting countries

(source)

refugee hosting countries map

(source)

Again, some older data: Pakistan was the top host country in the world for refugees in 2006:

refugee receiving countries

These are end of 2010 figures:

where refugees go to

refugees per 1000 population

(source, where you can find an interactive version)
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3. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

Internally Displaced Persons are those who have fled their homes but continue to live in their own countries. The displacement should be protracted in order to count as IDP. The numbers of IDPs, like that of refugees in general, fluctuates depending in the number and intensity of conflicts. For example, the number of IDPs went up to 17.7 million in 2012, from 15.5 million the year before, largely because of the civil war in Syria.

And yet, some 40 countries in the world have situations of protracted internal displacement. In Africa, that’s the case in around 15 countries. Of the 33 million people internally displaced at the end of 2013, 50% are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

internally displaced persons

(source)

Africa has many more IDPs than refugees, nearly five times as many. Sudan alone had over 2 million IDPs in 2011 (down from 4 million in 2010). Congo has another 2m or so, Somalia at least 1.3m. A score of other countries including Uganda, Zimbabwe and Kenya have hundreds of thousands more.

internally displaced people in africa

internally displaced persons in africa

(source)

The number of IDPs in Colombia is estimated to be nearly as high as in Sudan. Over 1m are also displaced in Iraq and Pakistan, where recent anti-Taliban assaults by the Pakistani army near the border with Afghanistan have uprooted many civilians. Cyprus, which was split after a Turkish invasion in 1974, has the largest share of its population internally displaced. (source)

MDG : world map with number of IDP by conflict

displacement_map

(source)

A report from the Norwegian Refugee Council notes a different set of numbers: 27.1m in 2009, 28.8 million in 2012.

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11 thoughts on “Statistics on Refugees

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  9. Martin says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. Images like this truly help to illustrate what a crisis the refugee problem is. It’s a shame that a human rights issue like this is so highly charged and can be so heated, and it’s vital to illustrate for people what truly is at stake: human lives. I’ve been reading “Frontier Justice” (http://www.amazon.ca/dp/0385662548)by Andy Lamey which does a good job of opening eyes to the refugee crisis. It’s so important to inform people on what is going on, so again, thanks for your posts. I wish I had found your blog sooner.

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