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Ukrainian girl refugee
15 March 2023

10 facts about refugees

Discover facts about the reality of life for refugees

What is a refugee?

A refugee is a person fleeing war, violence, conflict, or peril to another country, as they are either unwilling or unable to stay in or return to their country of origin.

To learn more about the definition of a refugee, read our article, What is a Refugee and What is a Refugee Crisis?

10 facts about refugees

  1. There are over 29 million refugees around the world.
  2. There are over 100 million displaced people around the world.
  3. The majority of refugees are children.
  4. Over 70% of refugees are from just five countries.
  5. Over 35% of refugees are hosted by five countries.
  6. Bangladesh is home to the world’s largest refugee camp.
  7. Many refugees will resettle in their country of origin.
  8. World Refugee Day is celebrated on the 20 June every year.
  9. There is no limit to what a refugee can achieve.
  10. You can help support child refugees.

1. There are over 29 million refugees around the world

According to the UNHCR, as of 2023, there are over 29 million refugees around the world. To put that number into context, it means there are around four million more refugees in the world than people living in Australia.

Unfortunately, this number has risen significantly in the past few years, mainly due to the Ukraine crisis, which saw an unprecedented spike in the number of people being displaced from their home country.

2. There are over 100 million displaced people around the world

Although the number of refugees worldwide is staggeringly high, many people who are also experiencing displacement are not included in this figure.

If you also account for asylum-seekers, those who have been internally displaced (displaced within their home country), others in need of international protection and stateless persons, that number rises to over 100 million.

When the conflict began in Ukraine, many children and families were forced to flee their homes

3. The majority of refugees are children

One unsettling fact is that over half of all refugees are children under 18. Forced displacement can affect anyone of any age and background, and children are, unfortunately, no exception.

What is even worse is that some of these children aren’t only displaced from their homes but separated from their families as well. Refugee Council reported that, in 2020, 21,000 children applied for asylum in a country of refuge without a parent or guardian.

4. Over 70% of refugees are from just five countries

Although there are over 29 million refugees in total, the vast majority (72%) come from only five countries: the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria), Venezuela, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and South Sudan.

Of these, the majority are from Syria, where 6.8 million have been displaced internationally, making up 27% of all refugees. After 12 years of conflict and uncertainty, so many Syrian people have been forced to choose the unknown over the situation they were placed in through no fault of their own.

5. Over 35% of refugees are hosted in five countries

Just as the majority of refugees are from five countries, over a third of all refugees are hosted by five countries: Turkey, Colombia, Germany, Pakistan and Uganda.

What you’ll notice is that these countries tend to be those within the closest proximity to the countries producing the most refugees. In fact, neighbouring countries host 69% of refugees. Turkey is the country that hosts the most refugees, with 3.7 million displaced people turning there. The majority of these are from neighbouring Syria.

6. Bangladesh is home to the world’s largest refugee camp

The largest refugee camp in the world can be found in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, which was formed in response to the mass migration from Myanmar after the Rohingya Crisis in 2017.

More than 700,000 fled Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh following an army crackdown, and many have remained to this day. In 2018, it was estimated that 60 babies were born in refugee camps in Bangladesh a day.

Girl refugee in Bangladesh
Maishara, seven, and her family are among many living in refugee camps across Bangladesh

7. Many refugees will resettle in their country of origin

For many who are forced to leave their country, it’s not a permanent move. During the first six months of 2022, it’s estimated that 204,500 refugees returned to their country of origin or resettled.

Often the circumstances that can cause someone to leave their country of origin might not persist, and people can choose to return or resettle for many reasons. It can be incredibly hard to give up your home and your life, and when the opportunity to return comes up, it’s not surprising that many choose to take it.

8. World Refugee Day is celebrated on 20 June every year

On 20 June every year, World Refugee Day is celebrated worldwide. Intended as a day to honour refugees and celebrate the strength and tenacity of those displaced from their home country, there are various events around the world to mark the day.

The day was first held on the 20 June 2003 to commemorate the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees after 50 years. Since then, the popularity of the day has grown, and it’s now a dedicated event to help refugees not only survive but thrive.

9. There is no limit to what a refugee can achieve

Many people might assume that the hardships affecting refugees mean they are unable to go on to achieve incredible things, but that is not true. If you are looking for stories of endurance, human perseverance, brilliance and inspiration, you need look no further than stories of refugees.

In all fields, there are examples of those who were once displaced or who come from displaced families achieving greatness. In the arts, singer Freddie Mercury, painter Lucian Freud, jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé, writer Judith Kerr, singer Mika and many more have displacement in their stories. So too, do figures including the Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, diplomat Henry Kissinger, neurologist Sigmund Freud, and physicist Albert Einstein.

READ MORE: Sir Mo Farah reveals he was trafficked to the UK

These are just the stories that appear on the world stage, but every refugee story is valuable. No person wants to be displaced and forced to find a new life away from home. However, many have to leave through no fault of their own.

10. You can help support child refugees

Children are forced to flee their homes, with many being separated from their families during the displacement. But you can help protect and support child refugees. By donating to World Vision, you’ll support our work, providing essentials such as lifesaving shelter, food, water and health care to children living in refugee camps.

Ensuring all children get access to education is an essential focus for us, and through our work, we also try to minimise the disruption displacement causes to a child’s life. We introduce child-friendly spaces in some of the most vulnerable communities to improve their situations, giving children a safe space to learn and play.

Sign up to hear more about World Vision’s work and how you can help change the lives of children around the world.

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