Sort fact from fiction with key statistics on the refugee crisis.

Reliable refugee statistics are often hard to come by. Scare stories and inaccuracies have littered the media in recent years, making it even harder to understand the mass movement of people that is currently taking place.

We wanted to give you the facts about displacement. Here are our top ten:


  1. Right now, over 79.5 million individuals have been forcibly displaced by persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations. This is a record high, and is roughly equivalent to the entire UK population being forced to flee their homes.
  2. 1 in every 103 people around the world is either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee.
  3. The rate of new displacement remains very high: one person becomes displaced every 4 seconds. That’s 16 people forced from their homes, every minute – or 23,800 every day.
  4. 85% of refugees are hosted by developing countries, and less than 1 in every 5 refugees is hosted in Europe. Host countries are entitled to additional support, thanks to the UN’s responsibility-sharing principle – and humanitarian responses remain perennially underfunded. In 2020, UNHCR requires for US$47.4million for their ongoing programmes and coronavirus response in the Central African Republic. As of July, just 25% of those funds had been received.The key statistics and facts on refugees
  5. 68% of refugees come from just five countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar.
  6. Of the 5+ million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, less than 1 in 15 receive material support or cash assistance from UNHCR or their implementing partners in 2018. We work with local and grassroots groups who are trying to fill these enormous gaps – find out more about our work in Lebanon and Turkey here.
  7. Last year, 128,536 people arrived in Europe: many taking the dangerous route across the Mediterranean and lots of people remain trapped on the Greek islands as a result of the unlawful and inhumane EU-Turkey deal.
  8. 9,000 children who arrived in Europe between January and December 2019 were alone. Many children face overburdened and under-resourced reception centres and are at acute risk of abuse and exploitation. In Greece, only 42% of unaccompanied children were in appropriate accommodation in December. 
  9. The lack of safe and legal routes to sanctuary continues to claim lives: in 2019, 1,885 men, women and children lost their lives while trying to cross the Mediterranean. Europe does not offer humanitarian visas: safe passage can only be ensured through family reunion applications, or resettlement. But less than 1% of refugees worldwide benefit from resettlement programmes, and family reunification is a restricted and often protracted process. As a result, thousands are forced to risk their lives in their attempt to reach safety.
  10. In 2018, the UK received just 6% of all asylum applications in the EU – Germany and France both received at least double the amount of applications. Furthermore, asylum seekers are a tiny fraction of new arrivals to the UK: the government’s statistics show that 625,000 people arrived in the UK for the year ending June 2018, but just 37,453 were seeking sanctuary here.


There are more people on the move than ever before – and there is no reason to believe that this number will fall in the near future. Many of the key drivers of displacement – protracted conflict, failed states, human rights violations, climate change – continue to rage, across the world. To help us continue our work, and to support refugees and displaced people across Europe, the Middle East and on the US-Mexico border, please donate here. Thank you.


This page was updated in August 2020 to reflect the most recent statistical releases.

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