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Refugees - Where Are They From and Where Are They Now?

Updated on August 2, 2015

Global displacement currently stands at over 50 million, with 19.5 million refugees worldwide. Hardly surprising with its current civil war it is estimated that one in four refugees is a Syrian, overtaking Afghanistan, who held the position for 3 decades, in becoming the largest source country of refugees. Additionally, 3 million people have been forced from their homes in neighbouring Iraq as a result of the brutality of the Islamic State, and millions across Africa as a result of conflict, violence and human rights abuses. These are just a number of figures that I want to bring to attention to display the sheer magnitude of the refugee crisis across the world.

So where are all these refugees going? The countries that host the majority of refugees are all in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia; many of them developing countries with their own economic and political struggles. Turkey now hosts the largest number of refugees while Pakistan comes in second hosting 1.5 million displaced people, mostly from Afghanistan, with Lebanon following closely behind with over 1 million Syrian refugees. In Africa, despite its poor economic situation, Ethiopia has overtaken Kenya in becoming the continent’s largest hosting country to refugees; this is largely a result of the conflict in South Sudan.

A closer look at displacement in Syria


And what about the UK? While the government have donated generously towards countries in conflict such as Syria, which has received £700 million in humanitarian aid, the sheer magnitude of the crisis means that financial aid alone is not enough. The pressure typically falls on countries nearest to the country of conflict as we see in Lebanon and Pakistan, the stability of the host country then becomes threatened itself. Last year, the UK granted asylum to just 14,000 people (around just 200 of which are Syrian), less than a third of the number granted in Germany. Additionally, while the EU try to even out the distribution of refugees in Europe with a new scheme that will see 40,000 migrants safely sheltered, under EU law, Britain, Ireland and Denmark will be able to legally opt out of the scheme. Ireland however, will still take on 272 migrants per 20,000. I should make clear that I am not suggesting the UK should take on more than they can handle, rather I am suggesting we at least participate in the resettlement scheme (which would only see the UK taking in 2,309 people based on population size and GPD), and change our attitude towards refugees, acknowledging it as a humanitarian crisis rather than a burden for our country.

In April, a boat crash seeing an estimated 800 migrants drown in the Mediterranean on their journey from Libya to Europe made the headlines across the world. Unfortunately, this is not a one off; migration charities believe that as many as 20,000 people may have died at sea in last two decades. The vulnerability of illegal migrants is almost too severe to comprehend with our western minds, rarely troubled by such brutality and fear; perhaps that is why so many people object to migrants taking refuge in our country. And it appears that this opinion runs parallel to that of our government, particularly Theresa May. The right to flee from the extreme violence and conflict sweeping the Middle East and countries across Africa should be important to all who value human life. Short term- refugees need shelter and safety, and long term- conflict resolution initiatives need to be implemented to create sustainable peace in their countries.

And finally, some stats to look at:

Opinion Poll

Should the UK do more to help refugees?

See results


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