What we learnt from the UNHCR’s mid-year trends report

Last updated January 15, 2015Blog post
A refugee child. Photo Refugee Action

In today’s turbulent world, refugee situations can change rapidly. The UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) recently released their mid-year trends report for the first six months of 2014.  Here’s what it showed us about how refugee situations are changing worldwide:

  • In the first six months of 2014, an estimated 5.5 million people were forced to flee by war or persecution.
  • By June, 1.3 million people worldwide were waiting for a decision on an asylum claim.  That’s the highest number of asylum seekers in more than fifteen years.
  • Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria, the Middle East and Africa produced more refugees than any other global region – overtaking Asia and the Pacific for the first time in more than ten years.
  • After three decades as the largest source country for refugees, Afghanistan was overtaken by Syria (which two years ago wasn’t even in the top thirty). 23% of all refugees under the UNHCR’s mandate today are Syrian.
  • Unrest around the world caused more changes to refugee populations. The number of South Sudanese refugees rose from 114,500 to 508,600 in just six months, putting South Sudan at number five in the list of refugee source countries. Likewise, violence and unrest put the Central African Republic among the top ten source countries of refugees for the first time ever.
  • During this six month period, 325,000 more Syrians fled to Lebanon. Lebanon now hosts the second largest refugee population in the world (after Pakistan) and is 67 places higher up the list of top host countries than it was just three and a half years ago.
  • The UK was not in the top ten refugee hosting countries during this period. Nor were we in the top fifteen countries that host the most refugees per 1 US dollar of GDP, or the top fifteen countries hosting the most refugees compared to their overall population.  As for asylum applications, we were down at number eight – following Germany, the USA, France and others.
  • There were 18% more asylum applications (558,600) in the first half of 2014 than there were in the first half of 2013. 59,600 of these were from Syrians.
  • Finally, there was some good news. 37,000 refugees were resettled, giving them the chance begin their lives anew in safe and peaceful countries. That’s 4,300 more than were resettled in the first six months of 2013 – but there are still many thousands of refugees around the world who desperately need this chance.

You can find all of these statistics, plus many more, in the full report.