When we entered 2021, there were 82.4 million people around the world displaced by conflict or persecution.
Thirty million of them are refugees, the rest are internally displaced (48 million) or asylum seekers (4.1 million), according to the latest UNHCR report. report. Almost half of these forcibly displaced people are children.
55 percent of the refugees come from three countries: Syria, Palestine and Venezuela.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, “everything else stopped, including economies, but wars, conflicts, violence, discrimination and persecution, all the factors that pushed these people to flee, have continued”, UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said.
Refugee travel during 2020
In 2020, 1.27 million people from 64 countries became refugees. The infographic below shows the desperate journeys these people made despite the additional challenges brought on by COVID-19.
Africa accounts for more than a third of the world’s displaced people. By the end of 2020, at least 30.6 million people were displaced across the continent.
In 2020, about 60,000 refugees fled Ethiopia to neighboring countries following violence in various parts of the East African country. In November 2020, fighting broke out in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, displacing more than a million people. according to the International Organization for Migration.
In the Middle East, Syrian refugees continued to flee their country’s 10-year war, with nearly 134,000 recorded leaving in 2020. Half of them (65,000) fled to neighboring Turkey, which is now home to the community of largest refugees in the world: 3.7 a million people. That same year, almost a quarter of Syrian refugees (32,500) arrived in Germany.
In Latin America, about 400,000 refugees fled Venezuela after a political and economic crisis in the country. Of these, 139,000 were registered fleeing to Peru, 80,000 to the Dominican Republic and 60,000 to Brazil.
In Asia, the UN registered at least 29,000 refugees from Myanmar. Almost all of these refugees reached neighboring India (17,000) and Bangladesh (12,000).
In Europe, at least 89,000 refugees fled from Azerbaijan to Armenia after 44 days of fighting that broke out between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory.
On the other side of the Atlantic, during 2020, the United States received 8,500 refugees from 20 countries. Almost half of these refugees came from just three countries: Venezuela (1,600), El Salvador (1,200) and Guatemala (1,100). This is significantly lower than in 2019 when the country received 32,000 refugees.
Canada received 7,500 refugees from 21 countries in 2020. The main countries of origin were Nigeria (1,400), Iran (1,200) and Hungary (629). On the other side of the world, Australia received only 956 refugees in 2020, mostly from Iran.
Where are the largest refugee camps?
Refugee camps are intended as a temporary safe haven to meet the basic needs of refugees. However, many people end up living in these camps for decades. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kenya: “Many displaced people spend more than 16 years living as refugees in temporary shelters.”
The infographic below highlights some of the largest refugee camps in the world.
The Kutupalong Camp In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, it is the largest refugee camp in the world. It was established informally in the early 1990s after Myanmar’s Rohingya minority began fleeing various repressions against them in Rakhine State.
In 2017, brutal crackdown targets across the state and the camp had to be significantly expanded, reaching a capacity of approximately 800,000 people.
On March 22, 2021, a major fire engulfed a neighboring refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. Fifteen people died and tens of thousands were left without their homes and belongings.
The Dadaab Refugee Complex Kenya comprises three large refugee camps – Hagadera, Dagahaley and Ifo – and hosts more than 200,000 refugees near the border with Somalia. Dadaab was established in 1991 after the civil war in Somalia and expanded in 2011 after widespread drought and famine.
The Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya it is home to at least 150,000 refugees, mostly from South Sudan and Somalia. The camp was established in 1992 after the arrival of thousands of Sudanese children fleeing the civil war.
In March 2021, the Kenyan government announced that it would close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps by June 30, 2022.
The Zaatari refugee camp was established in Jordan in 2012 to host Syrian refugees. Today, it is the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world. The world’s first COVID-19 vaccination center in a refugee camp opened there in February 2021.
70 years of refugee travel
In 1951, the UN established the 1951 Refugee Convention, created to protect the rights of refugees in Europe after World War II. In 1967, the convention was expanded to address displacement in the rest of the world.
The infographic below highlights 70 years of refugee travel, from 1951 to 2020. The number of refugees has more than doubled over the past decade, from 15 million in 2011 to 30 million in 2020.
The plight of the Palestinian refugees is the world’s longest unsolved refugee problem. On May 14, 1948, the British mandate for Palestine expired, triggering the first Arab-Israeli war. The Zionist militias expelled at least 750,000 Palestinians. According to figures compiled by UNHCR, in 1952 the number of Palestinian refugees was 867,000. Today, that number is 5.7 million.
Afghanistan has been devastated by four decades of war. From 1979 to 1989, the country was the scene of one of the last battles of the Cold War, when Soviet troops waged a bloody guerrilla war against the Afghan mujahideen. Over the next decade, the county kept fighting. Only 12 years after the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan would be invaded again, this time by the United States. The largest number of Afghan refugees was registered in 1990, where 6.3 million refugees were reported.
Which countries host the most refugees today?
At 6.7 million people, Syrians are the largest refugee population today, followed by Palestinians (5.7 million) and Venezuelans (4 million). In 2020, 88 percent of the world’s refugees came from just 12 countries.
At the receiving end, 65 percent of the world’s refugees are housed in just 16 countries. Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees (3.7 million) followed by Jordan (3 million) and Colombia (1.7 million).
In Europe, Germany is home to around 1.2 million refugees, the largest number on the continent.
According to UNHCR, developing countries are home to 86 percent of the world’s refugees.