Refugees Worldwide Reach Level not Seen in Generations…and Half are Children

Sunday, June 22, 2014
Syrian refugee children in Turkey (photo: Khalil Hamra, AP)

The number of refugees worldwide has reached a number not seen in years with half the displaced persons under the age of 18, according to a United Nations report.


There were 51.2 million displaced persons around the world in 2013, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Of that number, 16.7 million are refugees, while the rest are classified as “internally displaced persons,” who are uprooted but remain in their home countries. Eleven million of the total refugees were newly displaced last year. Those figures were the highest since at least 1989, the first year global displacement statistics existed.


The numbers are a sharp increase, with much of it coming as a result of the fighting in Syria. In 2008, Syria was the country hosting the second-largest number of refugees. Now, it’s the second-largest refugee=producing nation, trailing only Afghanistan. More than half of all refugees worldwide come from those two nations, along with Somalia.


With renewed fighting in Iraq and Ukraine, as well as conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, the number of refugees appears likely to increase even more this year.


The countries hosting the most refugees are Pakistan, with 1.6 million, and Iran, with almost 900,000.


 “There is no humanitarian response able to solve the problems of so many people,” UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres, warned in a news conference in Geneva, according to The New York Times. “It’s becoming more and more difficult to find the capacity and resources to deal with so many people in such tragic circumstances.”


Fifty percent of the refugees are children, up from 46% the year before. In East Africa and the Horn of Africa, children make up 60% of the refugee total.


The total number includes long-term refugees, such as Palestinians, some of whom have been displaced since 1948. Also included are about 1 million asylum seekers.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

War’s Human Cost (UN High Commissioner for Refugees)

U.N. Reports Sharp Increase in Refugees as Civil Wars Cripple Nations (by Somini Sengupta, New York Times)


Leave a comment