Where do the refugees come from? Where are they going to?

Country : Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria

Tags : Refugees, Data

The United Nations estimates that every day 32,200 men, women and children are forced to follow the trail of exile looking for refuge somewhere near or far from their home. Where do they come from? Where are they going to? Our answers in figures.

Where do the refugees come from?

Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia: more than half of the refugees on the planet come from one of these three countries plagued and undermined by years of war and violence. Sadly, as in the past 33 years, Afghanistan remains the country with the most refugees (2,56 million). However, this year it is likely to be overtaken by the number of Syrian refugees, who constituted a total of 2,47 million in 2013; this number has not stopped growing. It is the biggest exodus since the Rwandan genocide of 1994 when 2,3 million people had to escape. The Somali refugee population remains stable at approximately 1,1 million, which augurs improvement in the country’s safety and its humanitarian situation.


Who receives the refugees?

Ahead of Iran and Lebanon, Pakistan hosts 1,6 million, mostly Afghan refugees, and is thus the foremost host country. It is also the country hosting the largest number of refugees when one considers its economic capacity – counting 512 refugees for 1 dollar of GDP per inhabitant, followed by Ethiopia (336) and Kenya (295).

Yet, in proportion to its population, Lebanon hosts the most refugees: every fourth person living in the country of Cedars has refugee status – the majority is Palestinians who have been living in Lebanese refugee camps since 1948, and Syrians who have been arriving since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011. We have not seen anything like this in at least 30 years, when in 1980 Somalia received two million Ethiopian refugees, a ratio of 328 refugees to 1000 inhabitants.

In terms of continents, Asia hosts 3,5 million refugees on its soil, more than the Middle East (2,6 million), Europe (1,8 million) and America (800.000). 86% of all refugees have fled to so-called developing countries, the highest percentage in 22 years. This statistic is due to the end of conflicts in the Balkans, from which most people found refuge in the developed countries.


Who is going where?

For a better understanding, the diagram of migratory flux below only illustrates the displacements of a minimum of 100,000 refugees. On the left are the countries of origin; on the right, the countries of destination. The size of each migratory flux is in proportion to the concerned population.  

With respectively 1,615,876 and 814,015 individuals, Afghans in Pakistan and Iran constitute the largest group of expatriated refugees, followed by Syrians living in Lebanon (851,284 people), Turkey (585,601) and Jordan (585,304). Afghans, Syrians, Somali, Sudanese, Burmese, Columbians, Vietnamese and Iraqi – the majority of refugees escapes to bordering countries.



Data source: UNHCR.

Last modification the 8 December 2016