68% of the world’s refugee population comes from just five countries.
Almost 80 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes, the majority of whom are children. In fact, an average of one person is forcibly displaced every 2 seconds — but not all displacements are the same. In the past decade, the global refugee population has more than doubled. More than 26 million refugees currently live in host communities, many of which are in neighbouring countries. We are now at the highest population on record. 68% of the world’s refugee population comes from just five countries.
Refugee is the classification for someone who is forced to flee their country of origin due to conflict, violence, or persecution. They are unwilling or unable to return based on a demonstrable threat due to their race, religion, political stance, or social status.
Asylum-seeker is the classification for someone who is seeking international protection from danger in their country of origin, but whose claim for refugee status hasn’t been finally decided. Every refugee begins as an asylum-seeker, but not every asylum-seeker will be granted refugee status.
Internally displaced person (or IDP) is the classification for someone who is seeking refuge somewhere else within their own country as a result of conflict, epidemic, or natural disaster. Their hope is to return home as soon as it is safe to do so.
Migrant is the classification for someone who is moving between temporary homes (within their origin country or across international borders). This is different from an immigrant, who makes the conscious decision to move and resettle in a new country. Migrants aren’t forced to leave their country of origin due to violence, but often have just as urgent needs to find a better future (often a better economic future).
According to The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, there are currently 244 million people living outside their country of origin, all of whom are known collectively as ‘migrants’.
Top three refugee crises in the world
Over 25% of the total global refugee population are part of the global diaspora in the wake of the 10-year Syrian crisis. As of mid-2020, 6.6 million Syrians have sought refuge, primarily in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey (which is currently the largest host community for refugees).
Afghanistan continues to be the country of origin for the second-largest refugee population. Roughly 1 in 10 — that is, 2.7 million — refugees are Afghan by birth, and this number has fluctuated steadily over the last four decades. More than 88% of Afghan refugees are hosted in neighboring Pakistan and Iran.
Since December 2013, conflict in the burgeoning nation of South Sudan has driven nearly 4 million people from their homes — with more than half being forced to leave the country entirely.