These data are for 2008. Maps on refugees are here. All asylum seekers are refugees but not all refugees are asylum seekers. An asylum-seeker is an individual who has sought international protection from persecution and whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined. Some refugees who flee persecution may decide not to seek official asylum status. A person is a refugee from the moment he or she fulfills the criteria set out the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The formal recognition of someone, for instance through individual refugee status determination (RSD), does not establish refugee status, but confirms it.
(source, click on the images to enlarge)
The same data presented differently:
(source, where you can find an interactive version)
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of people internally displaced within their own countries (also called IDPs) has reached a historical high of more than 28 million (see also here for the full report). The numbers of IDPs usually fluctuate a lot and go up and down as a result of the outbreak or settling down of internal conflicts within states. The current increase follows recent events in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The countries with the largest numbers are Colombia (3 million), Iraq (2,5 million) and Sudan (2 million). (There’s an older map here).
More statistics are here.
A reminder what this series is about: the ways in which the language of human rights is used to push nonsense. Human rights nonsense devalues the whole system of human rights, and has to be ridiculed mercilessly if we want to preserve what is good about human rights.
This post is about the infamous “Refugee Run” earlier this year in Davos:
(source, click on the image to enlarge)
From the announcement:
During the coming World Economic Forum, we will co-host a very moving event in which people “step into the shoes” of the world’s 40 million refugees. For a moment in time, participants will be thrust into another environment where they face an attack from rebels, a “mine field”, border corruption, language incapacity, black-marketeering and refugee camp survival. Following the event, a debrief will invite the participants to discuss the refugee situation and explore ways to assist, should they wish so. … (Spoiler alert: no harm will come to you!)
In the words of Bill Easterly:
Can Davos man empathize with refugees when he or she is not in danger and is going back to a luxury banquet and hotel room afterwards? Isn’t this just a tad different from the life of an actual refugee, at risk of all too real rape, murder, hunger, and disease?
Did the words “insensitive”, “dehumanizing”, or “disrespectful” (not to mention “ludicrous”) ever come up in discussing the plans for “Refugee Run”?
This isn’t the best way to raise consciousness and awareness, to make the rich world sensitive to the problems of refugees, or to mobilize support for the activities of the UNHCR. It’s just stupid nonsense at best, and “disaster pornography” at worst, discrediting the activities of an organization that is more important than ever.
From The Economist:
At the end of 2008 10.5m refugees were in the direct care of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, down slightly from 11.4m a year earlier. The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq again caused the largest numbers of refugees to flee to, or remain in, neighbouring countries. Some 2.8m of the world’s refugees are from Afghanistan, most of whom are in Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan hosted almost 1.8m people last year, nearly all from Afghanistan, with Syria and Iran each receiving around 1m people. Germany was the most popular destination among rich countries. But as a share of its population Jordan has by far the highest concentration of refugees.
Jordan’s high proportion of refugees is partly explained by the large number of Palestinian refugees (some of whom were actually born in Jordan).
[This post is by guest-writer Line Løvåsen].
Following up on this post, some additional information on the evolution of military conflicts and military spending.
Since 2005, the Human Security Report Project (HSRP) publishes reports on trends in armed conflicts and political violence. The reports indicate a decline by around 40% in armed conflicts and political violence since 1992. Another report, the SIPRI yearbook of 2009, counts 16 armed conflicts going on in the world in 2008. In 1998 there were 36, and from 1989 to 1998 there were over 100.
The decline is explained by the end of the two “conflict machines”, colonialism and the Cold War. The increase in international activism, more specifically at the UN, and changes in the nature of warfare have also resulted in fewer deadly conflicts. The wars of today are of a lower intensity, and are fought with lighter arms, predominately between weak government forces and poorly trained rebels. The increasing number of refugees is another reason for lower death tolls, together with a decrease in the number of authoritarian regimes. According to the report, terrorism is the only type of political violence that is increasing, but it still accounts for a small number of deaths. Despite this relatively small number, many politicians still claim that terrorism is the biggest threat.
According to the peace dividend-notion, there should be a reduction in military spending when there is a decline in conflicts. However, SIPRI, which reports on annual military spending, shows, in the 2009 report, an increase in military spending by 45% since 1997. The world now spends more than 1464 billion dollars annually (!) on the military and arms trade. The biggest spender is the United States, which is responsible for almost half of the total world spending, and during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush, US military expenditure increased to its highest level in real terms since World War II. In addition to increased spending, there is also an increased concentration of spending with around 15 countries responsible for over 80% of total spending.
Via Obsidian Wings:
The fighting [between the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil rebels in the North] has recently focused on a small area on a little spit of land surrounded on three sides by water. The people who lived there were essentially trapped, and the Tamil Tigers were said to be using them as human shields. There were, reportedly, 50,000 of them as of May 15. Aid has not been able to get through for some days. Here are some photos from a report commissioned by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International (via the BBC) that give some sense of the recent damage to this area:
Bear in mind that those photos are of the same area, and that they were taken four days apart. That’s how long it took for most of those houses — which had been set up for displaced persons — to be obliterated by government shelling.