In recent years, millions of people worldwide have strived to flee war and poverty and find better living conditions within the borders of a different country. These attempts have caused global refugee numbers to rise to staggering heights.
While foreign countries are struggling to handle the increasing numbers of refugees seeking asylum within their territory, many of the states these people are fleeing face real humanitarian crises caused by ethnic, religious, political, or economic tensions.
Here are some of the most striking refugee statistics that reveal how severe the world’s refugee crisis really is.
Shocking Refugee Crisis Statistics (Editor’s Pick)
- Today, there are 26.3 million refugees worldwide.
- One in every 103 people worldwide is seeking refuge in another country.
- 50% of refugees worldwide are children.
- Just over a million refugees worldwide are resettled.
- There are currently 45.7 million internally displaced in the world.
- By mid-2020, approximately 80 million people were displaced worldwide.
- Fewer than 50% of refugee children reach secondary school.
- 85% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries.
Worldwide Statistics on Refugees
1. The number of refugees worldwide has doubled over the past decade.
UNHCR refugee statistics reveal that there were almost 80 million asylum seekers, refugees, or displaced people worldwide at the beginning of 2020, signifying an increase of 9 million compared to the number reported two years earlier. This figure shows the enormous scale of the forced immigration phenomenon the world is currently dealing with. Moreover, this figure shows that the number of refugees has doubled since 2010, when there were 41 million refugees worldwide.
2. One in every 103 people worldwide is currently seeking refuge in another country.
Many people across the globe have been forced to flee their home in recent years due to civil wars, political or religious persecution, hunger, and poverty. Today, one in every 103 people around the world has fled their home and is an asylum seeker, a refugee, or an internally displaced person. Refugee immigration statistics point out that the rate of new displacements remains high, as approximately one person becomes a displaced citizen less than every four seconds, which means that every minute, as many as 16 people are forced to leave their homes. Per day, this amounts to 23,800 displaced people.
3. Canada is one of the countries resettling the highest number of refugees.
Canada is one of the most welcoming countries for people seeking asylum. Refugees come to this country from many states affected by crises, including Iraq and Syria. In 2018, it was the state that managed to resettle the largest number of refugees by welcoming 28,100 of the 92,400 people who were resettled in 25 different countries that year. Moreover, Canada also ranked second among the countries with the highest percentage of citizenships granted to refugees.
4. Syria and Venezuela are the two states with the largest number of refugees.
Refugee statistics by country point out that Syrians and Venezuelans are currently ranked the first two nationalities by number of refugees. In recent years, these two countries have been hit hard by political crises, poverty, and civil conflict that prompted people to flee to other states. Together with Afghans, South Sudanese, and the Rohingya community of Myanmar, Syrians and Venezuelans comprise 79.5 of the 80 million refugees worldwide.
5. More than 70% of refugees seek asylum in a neighboring country.
Despite widespread misconceptions that paint most asylum seekers as eager to reach wealthy Western countries, refugee data actually suggests that as many as 73% of people who flee civil wars, poverty, and persecution go to neighboring countries, which means that most of these people don’t ever try to reach North America or Europe. Today, roughly nine out of 10 refugees go to neighboring countries.
6. 50% of the world’s refugees reside in six countries.
Global refugee statistics indicate that about 50% of the world’s refugees currently reside in one of the following six states: Turkey, Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Uganda, and Pakistan. The reason behind these destinations of choice is the fact that most refugees come from neighboring countries, such as Syria or Afghanistan. This statistic highlights a significant and often overlooked fact: rich Western states don’t actually host such a large share of the world’s refugees.
7. More than 13 million of the world’s 26 million refugees are minors.
Current refugee statistics reveal that of the 80 million people who had been forced to leave their homes by mid-2020, an alarming number of them are minors. More precisely, half of the 26.3 million refugees worldwide are under the age of 18. This highlights once again how severe the political and social crises in various parts of the world are and probably will continue to be, given that young people are fleeing in such large numbers.
8. Just over a million refugees worldwide are resettled currently, with around 110,000 refugees resettling every year.
According to refugee resettlement statistics, over the past decade only a million refugees worldwide have been resettled and approximately 3.9 million refugees have managed to return to their home country. This data provided by Amnesty International not only highlights the difficulty refugees are faced with while trying to settle in a new country, but also the fact that the systems in developed or developing states have failed to streamline the resettlement process.
9. There are currently more than 45 million internally displaced people globally.
Of the more than 80 million people who have fled their homes by 2020 due to civil wars, violence, and persecution, 45.7 million are currently displaced within their own country. Given the continuous political and social unrest that has been forcing people in many countries to flee their homes, these numbers are likely to increase in the context of an impoverished post-pandemic world.
10. The number of refugees in Australia increased by more than 30% in a single year.
The number of refugees fleeing to Australia increased by a third over a single year from 2018 to 2019, reaching a total of 76,764 people in 2019. This represents an increase of 34.83% compared to the previous year, as refugee statistics in Australia show. Most people seeking asylum in Australia come from the following countries: Iraq, DRC Congo, Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Ethiopia.
11. 85% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries.
Despite common misconceptions regarding large numbers of refugees flooding rich Western countries, statistics show that developing countries are actually the ones dealing with most of the world’s refugees. As many as 85% of refugees worldwide are being hosted by developing countries, with fewer than one in 5 refugees being welcomed in Europe, for example. Because of this, developing countries require help from the UN. However, they often remain underfunded, a situation that was worsened last year by the COVID-19 crisis, which resulted in only 25% of the budgeted funds to be received by July.
12. Fewer than 50% of refugee children reach secondary school.
Approximately 77% of refugee children get to enroll in primary school in the states that welcome them after immigrating. However, fewer than 50% of them manage to reach the secondary level. Moreover, refugee facts and statistics indicate that only 3% of refugee children get enrolled in higher education institutions, and girls are half as likely as boys to get access to any type of formal education.
13. Almost 500,000 present-day refugees come from the northern parts of Central America.
Due to crime and violence caused by drug cartels but also political persecution, there are currently 470,000 asylum seekers and refugees coming from the northern part of Central America, as statistics from mid-2020 show. Drug-related violence perpetrated by cartels represents one of the biggest problems Latin American countries have been struggling to cope with for many years.
14. In 2019, more than 600,000 first-time asylum applicants were registered in EU member states.
According to European statistics on refugees, EU member states received a total number of 612,700 first-time asylum applications in 2019. Since Brexit, there are now 27 member states within the European Union. A first-time applicant is a person who makes their first formal international protection application in a member state belonging to the European Union.
US Refugee Statistics
15. In 2020, US refugee admissions reached an all-time low.
The 2020 fiscal year saw record low levels of refugees seeking asylum in the United States. United States asylum statistics show that only 3,000 people managed to be granted asylum on US soil in 2020, a number significantly lower than those registered in 2002 and 2003, right after the Patriot Act was passed. In those years, the US granted asylum to 27,000 and 28,000 refugees respectively.
16. 10 states host 70% of all the USA’s naturalized citizens.
In the United States, the percentage of refugees who manage to become naturalized citizens varies tremendously from region to region, with only 10 states hosting more than half of the total number of naturalized citizens. Approximately 70% of naturalized citizens live in the following states: Pennsylvania (2.5%), Massachusetts (2.7%), Virginia (2.8%), Georgia (3.1%), Illinois (3.6%), New Jersey (4.3%), New York (10.1%), Florida (11.4%), Texas (11.6%), and California (17.6%).
17. The largest number of naturalized citizens in the USA come from Mexico.
Being situated right one the border with the US, Mexico has long been one of the countries that accounts for the largest numbers of foreigners migrating to America. Refugee immigration statistics show that most naturalizations occurring in the US involve people whose country of origin is Mexico. They account for 14.5% of all naturalizations, followed by India with 7.7% and the Philippines with 5.2%.
18. More than 8 million people have been naturalized in the US over the past decade.
Being naturalized represents one of the most significant steps someone who has come to the USA as an immigrant can take. Over the last decade, more than 8 million people coming from different countries have become naturalized US citizens, with 843,593 people naturalized in 2019.
19. The US refugee limit for FY 2021 is the lowest since 1980.
For the fiscal year 2021, the USA’s refugee limit was capped at only 15,000 people. Refugee statistics in the US indicate that this represents a record low since the program began in 1980. The 2021 refugee cap is even lower than the 2020 one, which was set at 18,000 refugees.
Moreover, the Trump administration enforced a strict plan regarding the type of refugees who will be resettled in the US this year; 5,000 slots are allocated to people persecuted for religious motives, 4,000 will be allocated to Iraqis who have helped the US, 1,000 slots go to people from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, while the remaining 5,000 slots are available for other refugees.
20. Christians account for almost 80% of the refugees accepted by the US.
In recent years, the number of Christian refugees who are welcomed in the US has constantly been larger than that of Muslims, as stats on refugees show. On average, 79% of refugees allowed to enter the US are Christians, amounting to almost 24,000 people yearly, as opposed to roughly 4,900 Muslims.
21. Refugees from Asia are most likely to be granted asylum in the US.
When it comes to the likelihood of being granted asylum in the United States, people who come from Asia seem to have the highest chance of being welcomed. US asylum statistics point out that the largest group of people to be granted asylum in America have always been Asian refugees. Since 1975, they have represented as many as 45% of the total number of recipients.
22. The top three states for refugee resettlement in 2019 were Texas, Washington, and New York.
As you’d expect, the number of refugees resettled in the United States is not evenly divided among the states. In the US, the three states that help the largest numbers of refugees resettle are Texas - where 2,500 refugees were resettled in 2019 - followed by Washington with 1,900 and New York with 1,800 resettlements, according to refugee statistics by state 2019.
Recent Refugee Stats
23. The number of resettled refugees fell to a record low in 2020.
Illegal immigration in 2020 has seen an unexpected shift, with the number of refugees safely resettled falling to record low levels in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused many countries to temporarily suspend resettlement schemes. In 2020, only around 15,000 refugees were resettled from the 31,008 resettlement cases that were processed, as UNHCR reports reveal. By comparison, the previous year saw 63,726 refugees resettled.
24. Syrian refugees made up the largest number of resettlements in 2020.
For the past several years, Syria has been among the countries with the highest rates of immigration. UNHCR Syrian refugee statistics reveal that by the end of 2020, the largest number of refugees worldwide who managed to be successfully resettled in another country came from Syria, amounting to 41% of global totals. The next country was the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose citizens accounted for 16% of all resettlements.
25. El Salvador and Honduras account for the largest number of refugees from Central America.
Central America has long been known for its lack of political instability and precarious living conditions caused largely by drug cartels. The two countries that seemingly feel this crisis most severely are Honduras and El Salvador, which last year registered a combined total of 318,000 internally displaced people, followed by Nicaragua with 102,000.
26. In 2020, refugees from Iran, Iraq, and Sudan represented the top three nationalities granted protection in the UK.
The states with the largest numbers of refugees change each year depending on the political and social events that force people to leave their own country. Last year in Q3, the largest number of asylum seekers who were granted protection by the UK came from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Albania, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen, while some were stateless refugees.
27. Only 24% of asylum requests were approved in the UK in 2020.
The UK has long been known as a destination for people who immigrate from poorer countries, as well as those simply seeking better work opportunities. Nonetheless, the number of refugees admitted in the UK decreased significantly last year, a trend that was likely triggered by both the ongoing pandemic and Brexit, which officially marked the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. In Q3 2020, the UK only agreed to grant asylum to 24% of refugees, which represents a considerable decrease compared to previous quarters.
28. More than 114,300 irregular border crossings were recorded in Europe in 2020.
According to Europe refugee crisis statistics, the refugee crisis that was at its peak in 2015 and 2016 when more than 2.3 million people crossed European borders without permission had gradually subsided by 2019. Between January and November 2020, roughly 114,300 unpermitted border crossings were reported in Europe, as refugee statistics for 2020 reveal.
29. Currently, there are more than 4 million asylum seekers worldwide.
Millions of people worldwide are currently seeking asylum, most of them coming from countries in the Middle East, Africa, or Latin America. Data registered by UNHCR by mid-2020 pointed out that, at that time, there were approximately 4.2 million asylum seekers worldwide. Venezuelans account for a significant percentage of this figure: 808,200 asylum seekers in total.
30. Myanmar registered approximately 1 million refugees in 2020.
In recent years, the situation of the Rohingya population in Myanmar has been the subject of numerous discussions among international organizations. Due to the violent conflict that started in 2017 in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes, with approximately 740,000 going to Bangladesh. As of 2020, there are approximately 1 million Rohingya refugees who have escaped Myanmar.
Worldwide, there are millions of people who have been forced to flee their country due to civil war, prosecution, and extreme poverty. Despite common beliefs, rich Western countries are not the ones receiving the largest numbers of refugees, a responsibility that is actually primarily fulfilled by developing countries.
Moreover, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most countries have made resettlement even more difficult than before, decreasing the number of refugees they’re willing to accept. In the light of the pandemic, one thing is certain: asylum seekers and refugees trying to get resettled face a tumultuous future