UNHCR report says forced displacement tops 50 million for first time in post-World War II era

UNHCR released its annual Global Trends report, covering displacement that occurred during 2013. the report says “the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide has, for the first time in the post-World War II era, exceeded 50 million people”.

From the press release:

“UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report, which is based on data compiled by governments and non-governmental partner organizations, and from the organization’s own records, shows 51.2 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2013, fully 6 million more than the 45.2 million reported in 2012.

This massive increase was driven mainly by the war in Syria, which at the end of last year had forced 2.5 million people into becoming refugees and made 6.5 million internally displaced. Major new displacement was also seen in Africa – notably in Central African Republic and South Sudan. [...]

Displacement data in the annual report covers refugees, asylum-seekers and the internally displaced. Among these, refugee numbers amounted to 16.7 million people worldwide, 11.7 million of whom are under UNHCR’s care and the remainder registered with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine. These totals alone are the highest UNHCR has seen since 2001. In addition, more than half of the refugees under UNHCR’s care (6.3 million) had at end 2013 been in exile for more than five years.

Overall, the biggest refugee populations under UNHCR care and by source country are Afghans, Syrians and Somalis – together accounting for more than half of the global refugee total. Pakistan, Iran and Lebanon, meanwhile, hosted more refugees than other countries. [...]

In addition to refugees, 2013 saw 1.1 million people submitting applications for asylum, the majority of these in developed countries (Germany became the largest single recipient of new asylum claims). A record 25,300 asylum applications were from children who were separated from or unaccompanied by parents. Syrians lodged 64,300 claims, more than any other nationality, followed by asylum seekers from Democratic Republic of the Congo (60,400) and Myanmar (57,400).

Internal displacement – people forced to flee to other parts of their country – amounted to a record 33.3 million people, accounting for the largest increase of any group in the Global Trends report. For UNHCR and other humanitarian actors, helping these people represents a special challenge as many are in conflict zones.

Part of UNHCR’s work is finding long-term solutions for people who become forcibly displaced. Where possible this is through voluntary return, but other possibilities include local integration or resettlement in third countries. The year 2013 saw the fourth lowest level of refugee returns in almost a quarter century – 414,600 people. Some 98,400 refugees were resettled in 21 countries.” (UNHCR press release, 20 June 2014)

The report can be accessed at the following link:

UNHCR: Global Trends 2013. War’s Human Cost, 20 June 2014

For numbers on asylum decisions in the European Union in 2013, see the following two EUROSTAT publications:

EUROSTAT: Asylum decisions in the EU28 [STAT/14/98], 19 June 2014

EUROSTAT: Asylum applicants and first instance decisions on
asylum applications: 2013 [Data in focus 3/2014], 21 March 2014

“The EU28 Member States granted protection to 135 700 asylum seekers in 2013, compared with 116 200 in 2012. [...]

The three largest groups of beneficiaries of protection status in the EU28 in 2013 remained citizens of Syria (35 800 persons or 26% of the total number of persons granted protection status), Afghanistan (16 400 or 12%) and Somalia (9 700 or 7%).

Syrians, whose number has almost doubled compared with 2012, represented in 2013 the largest group granted protection status in half of the Member States and one of the three largest groups in 23 of the 28 Member States. Of the 35 800 Syrians granted protection status in the EU28, more than 60% were recorded in two Member States: Sweden (12 000) and Germany (9 600). Of the 16 400 Afghans granted protection, more than three-quarters were registered in Germany (5 000), Austria and Sweden (both 2 300), Italy (1 600) and Belgium (1 500). Of the 9 700 Somalis, 2 800 were granted protection status in the Netherlands, 1 700 in Sweden and 1 600 in Italy.” (EUROSTAT, 19 June 2014)

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