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By the numbers

By the numbers UNHCR
20 Jun
On Thursday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released its most recent report of global refugee trends for 2014. It found worldwide displacement was at the highest level ever recorded

Some of the key, yet staggering statistics were:

 The number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 had risen to 59.5 million compared to 51.2 million in 2013, the biggest leap ever recorded in a single year

 One in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum, half of them are children

 If the number of refugees were the population of a country, it would be the world’s 24th biggest

Every day last year, an average of 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced. This is a four-fold increase in just four years 



Since early 2011, the main reason for the acceleration has been the war in Syria, now the world’s single-largest driver of displacement.

The number of refugees and internally displaced people is one the rise. Since 2010, at least 15 conflicts have begun or been reignited: 


 In the last five years, conflicts have erupted in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

 Syria is the world’s biggest producer of both internally displaced people (7.6 million) and refugees (3.88 million at the end of 2014).

 Adding to the high totals from Syria was a new displacement of at least 2.6 million people in Iraq and 309,000 newly displaced in Libya.

 Meanwhile, older conflicts in Afghanistan and Somalia keep millions of people on the move. Afghanistan (with 2.59 million) and Somalia (with 1.1 million) are the next biggest refugee source countries.


 There are significant conflicts in Africa. Together these conflicts produced immense forced displacement totals in 2014, on a scale only marginally lower than the Middle East. In the last five years, eight conflicts have erupted in sub-saharan Africa: Cote d’Ivoire, Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, Northeastern Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and in this year, Burundi.

 In total, sub-Saharan African saw 3.7 million refugees and 11.4 million internally displaced people, 4.5 million of whom were newly displaced in 2014. Ethiopia replaced Kenya as the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and the fifth largest worldwide. 


 The single most serious conflict in Europe is in Ukraine, displacing millions.

 In 2014, there was a record high number of Mediterranean crossings (219,000).

 Turkey became the top refugee hosting nation with 1.59 million Syrian refugees by the end of 2014.

 The largest volume of asylum applications were in Germany and Sweden.

 Overall, forced displacement numbers in Europe totalled 6.7 million at the end of the year, compared to 4.4 million at the end of 2013. The majority of these were Syrians entering Turkey and Ukrainians entering the Russian Federation.

Asia (up 31 PER CENT)

 In the last five years, three serious conflicts have erupted in Kyrgyzstan, several areas of Myanmar and several areas of Pakistan.

 The number of internally displaced people in Asia grew by 31 per cent in 2014 to nine million people.

 Ongoing displacement was seen in and from Myanmar in 2014, including Rohingya from Rakhine state and the Kachin and Northern Shan regions.

 Iran and Pakistan remain two of the world’s top four refugee hosting countries. 


 The number of Colombian refugees dropped by 36,300 to 360,300 over the year, although mainly because of a revision in the numbers of refugees reported by Venezuela.

Colombia continued, nonetheless to have one of the world’s largest internally displaced populations, reported at six million people and with 137,000 Colombians being newly displaced during the year. With more people fleeing gang violence or other forms of persecution in Central America, the US saw 36,800 more asylum claims than in 2013, representing growth of 44 per cent.



  • The UNHCR expects the crisis to worsen as almost nine out of every ten refugees are in regions and countries considered economically less developed. Few of these crises have resolved and most continue to cause displacement.
  • In 2014 only 126,800 refugees were able to return to their home countries – the lowest number in 31 years.


Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and Asylum seekers

  • In 2014 alone, 13.9 million people became newly displaced – four times the number in 2013.
  • Worldwide there are 19.5 million refugees (up from 16.7 million in 2013).
  • 38.2 million displaced within their own countries (up from 33.3 million in 2013).
  • 1.8 million people were awaiting the outcome of claims for asylum (against 1.2 million in 2013).


For an in-depth look at the Refugee Crisis, read Mark Rowe’s complete Dossier in the latest issue, on sale now. Or click here to subscribe and never miss an issue.

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