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The global refugee crisis – by the numbers

17 July 20150 comments

Last month, the UNHCR released its Global Trends Report for 2014 outlining the organisation’s activities, achievements and challenges for 2014.

One of the most troubling developments identified in the report was the worsening situation in regard to children and women being forced to leave their homes and becoming refugees or displaced persons.

It said the growing numbers of migration crises facing the international community are symptoms of a long line of brutal conflicts and rights violations.

“Political turbulence, repression, violence and war have become so widespread that they impel many millions of the world’s people to risk their lives to find a place of relative safety,” UN human rights chief Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said launching the report.

The report is an overview of the work carried out by the UNHCR in 2014 to protect and improve the lives of tens of millions of forcibly displaced people: refugees, internally displaced people, returnees, stateless people and others of concern.

It highlights the year’s achievements, as well as challenges faced by the organisation and its partners in attempting to respond to multiple life-threatening crises and ever-growing humanitarian needs.

An AMES analysis of the report has identified 14 salient facts stemming from the document:

  1. Each day in 2014, 42,500 people became refugees, asylum-seekers, or internally displaced persons (IDPs).
  2. One in every 122 people in the world is now a refugee, IDP, or seeking asylum.
  3. This totaled 8.3 million more people than the year before; the highest recorded increase of displaced people over a single year ever.
  4. Over the last three years, the total count of displaced persons has increased 40 per cent.
  5. Four times as many people this year were forced to leave their homes daily compared to four years ago.
  6. Just 126,800 refugees were allowed to return home last year; the lowest number recorded in the past the decades.
  7. Africa accounts for 32 per cent of the total number of forcibly displaced people; Asia 46 per cent; Europe 3 per cent; Latin American and the Caribbean 12 per cent; North America 1 per cent; and Oceania 1 per cent; while 7 per cent are stateless or unknown.
  8. 37,100 stateless people in 23 countries have acquired nationality according to current counts for 2014, though almost 3.5 million stateless people were reported for the year.
  9. Syria became the top country of origin for refugees, though Afghanistan held the position for the past 3 decades.
  10. Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia are the source for just over half of the refugee population.
  11. 164 countries recorded data disaggregated by gender in 2014; seven more countries than in 2013 but this covers about the same percentage of the total refugee population given the overall population increase.
  12. The proportion of women and girl refugees rose to 50 per cent in 2014 from 48 per cent in 2011; making males and females relatively equal proportions of the refugee population.
  13. More significantly, the proportion of children refugees rose to 51 per cent in 2014 from 46 per cent in 2011.
  14. 34,300 asylum applications were logged by unaccompanied or separated children in 2014; the highest number recorded since starting to collect this information in 2006.

Laurie Nowell
AMES Senior Journalist