Facts and Figures about Refugees

Facts and Figures about Refugees

Facts and figures are vital to UNHCR for planning and preparedness. UNHCR’s full-time statisticians keep track of the number of people of concern to the Agency. These figures are released every June in the annual Global Trends report.

The number of forcibly displaced worldwide amounted to 59.5 million individuals by the end of 2014. However, as the number of refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide continued to grow in 2015, it is likely that this figure has far surpassed 60 million.

This figure of 59.5 million includes:

14.4 million refugees registered under UNHCR's mandate

5.1 million Palestinian refugees registered by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency)

Where do the World's Refugees come from?

The Syrian Arab Republic is the largest source country of refugees with a total refugee population of 4.2 million as of mid-2015. Syrians remained the main group of asylum-seekers worldwide, with 114,500 new asylum applications registered during the first six months of 2015.

Afghanistan (2.6 million) has remained the second-largest source country for refugees with Somalia (1.1 million) placing both as the third largest source country worldwide and as the largest refugee producing country in Sub-Saharan Africa.

South Sudan is the fourth-largest source country of refugees worldwide (744,100 by the end of June 2015).

Who Hosts the World's Refugees?

As of mid-2015, Turkey hosts 1.84 million refugees in its territory. As such, Turkey has overtaken Pakistan as the country which hosts the largest refugee population within its territory in the world. Pakistan currently hosts 1.5 million refugees, nearly all of whom are from Afghanistan.

Lebanon remains the third-largest refugee hosting country in the world with 1.2 million refugees falling within the mandate of UNHCR. As of mid-2015, there are 209 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants in Lebanon.

Asylum Seekers

Almost one million individual asylum applications were registered in 155 countries or territories during the first half of 2015, with the figure for the corresponding period of 2014 standing at 558,000.

During the first 6 months of 2015, the United States of America was the third largest single recipient of new asylum claims (78,200). Half of all asylum claims in the U.S. were lodged by nationals of 4 countries (Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico), a figure which reflects the ongoing and deteriorating situation as a result of violence generated by organized crime, gang activity and the activities of drug cartels in certain parts of the region.

Seeking Asylum in Europe

173,100 asylum applications were registered by the German authorities for the whole of 2014. During the first 6 months of 2015, Germany received a total of 159,900, the highest number of new asylum applications worldwide during that period.

On average, one out of every five asylum claims in Germany was made by a Syrian national.

As of June 2015, Germany (311,600) and Sweden (56,100) have the largest backlog of registered asylum applications within the EU.

The Russian Federation was the third largest single recipient of new asylum claims during the first 6 months of 2015 worldwide with 100,000 asylum applications.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

As of mid-2015, the number of IDP’s worldwide is an estimated 34 million.

During the first six months of 2014, 4.1 million individuals were displaced by violence and conflict within their own countries. This figure has since increased in the corresponding period of 2015 to 4.2 million.

Yemen reported the largest number of newly displaced persons (933,500), followed by Ukraine (559,000), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (558,000), Nigeria (378,500), Iraq (366,500), and Pakistan (309,200).

Although figures on newly displaced persons for the first 6 months of 2015 are not available, with 7.6 million IDPs, the Syrian Arab Republic remained the country with the highest number of IDP’s worldwide.

Between the end of 2013 to mid-2015, the number of IDP’s in Colombia registered by the government has increased from 5.4 million to 6.5 million.

It is estimated that 1.4 million IDP’s returned to their countries of origin during the first half of 2015. Unfortunately, this is almost 200,000 fewer people than the corresponding period in 2014.


Statelessness refers to the condition of an individual who is not considered a national by any state. Although stateless people may sometimes also be refugees, the two categories are distinct and both groups are of concern to UNHCR.

The very nature of statelessness makes it difficult to collect statistics accurately and to therefore determine exactly the numbers affected by the phenomenon. UNHCR estimates that there are at least 10 million stateless persons worldwide, yet the available data in this report puts the figure at 3.9 million persons in 78 countries or territories.

This is an increase on the figures for the corresponding period in 2014 which stood at 3.5 million individuals. This increase is mainly as a result of the newly reported figure of around 300,000 persons in Zimbabwe whose nationality status has been negatively affected by changes in the country’s nationality laws.

Refugee Returns

During the first half of 2015, roughly 84,400 persons have returned to their countries of origin. The figure is comparatively lower than the 107,000 persons who were returned to their countries of origin during the corresponding period in 2014.

63,800 of those who had returned by mid-2015 did so with the help of UNHCR.

Afghanistan (46,100), Somalia (19,000), Sudan (3,900), and Iraq (3,300) saw the largest number of returning refugees. Taken together, these four countries of origin accounted for 85% of all returnees.

For more information see:

UNHCR Global Trends Report 2013: click here

UNHCR Mid-Year Trends Report 2014: click here

UNHCR Asylum Trends Report 2014: click here

UNHCR Mid-Year Trends Report, 2015: click here

UNHCR Data-Bank: click here