Consider how radically your world would change if, without notice, you were forced to leave your home and possessions behind and relocate to an area where you don’t know anyone and have no idea when you will eat next. This is the reality of millions of people across the world.
- A refugee is legally defined as a person who is outside his or her country of nationality and is unable to return due to a well-founded fear of persecution because of his or her race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
- In early 2012, there were 15.2 million refugees around the world, with the highest number in Pakistan (4.8 million) and the most refugees originating from Afghanistan (2.7 million).
- It’s estimated that 80 percent of refugees are women and children. In 2012, 46 percent were under the age of 18 and 48 percent were women.
- An asylum seeker is a person who is looking to be recognized as a refugee, but has not yet received formal refugee status. The most asylum seekers come from Pakistan, Iran, and Sri Lanka.
- Internally displaced people (IDPs) are those who have been forced to leave their homes as a result of armed conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations. Unlike refugees they have not crossed an international border.
- In 2011, there were roughly 26.4 million people displaced internally (within their country of origin) by conflict.
- Under international law, refugees are not allowed to be forced back to the countries they have fled.
- Developing countries host 80 percent of the world’s refugees.
- In 2011, the countries with the most number of IDPs were Colombia (3.8 million), Sudan (2.4 million), Democratic Republic of Congo (1.7 million), Somalia (1.4 million) and Iraq (1.3 million).
- A total of 895,000 individual applications for asylum or refugee status were submitted to governments and UNHCR offices in 166 countries in 2011. Roughly 11 percent of these requests were fulfilled.
- 2011 saw a significant number of people seeking asylum or refugee status from countries experiencing recent or ongoing conflict or security concerns.
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Sources: Refugees International, UN Refugee Agency