Bhutanese communtiy representative Teju Chouhan meets Immigration Minister Peter Dutton in Refugee Week 2015

Does Australia, as is sometimes claimed, have the world’s most generous refugee program or is Australia’s response mean? What do global statistics tell us?

Australia’s annual Refugee and Humanitarian Program

In 2013-14, the Australian Government issued 13,768 Refugee and Humanitarian visas. Of these, 11,016 were offshore Refugee and Special Humanitarian Program visas and 2,752 were permanent Onshore Protection visas.[1] In 2014-15 and 2015-16, the total annual program remains at 13,750. The Australian Government expects to issue about 11,000 offshore resettlement visas (Refugee and Special Humanitarian) and 2,750 onshore permanent protection visas. In recent years, Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program peaked at 20,015 places in 2012-13 but was cut back by 6,250 places in 2013. The Abbott Government has pledged to partially reverse its cut by increasing the program to 16,250 places in 2017-18 and 18,250 in 2018-19.

UNHCR’s global statistics for 2014

In June each year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) releases its global statistics for the previous calendar year. The most recent statistics showed that, as at 31 December 2014, there were 19.5 million refugees around the world – 5.1 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East under the mandate of the UN Relief and Works Agency and 14.38 million refugees around the world under the mandate of UNHCR. Of the refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, 3,262,960 were recognised as refugees in 2014 and 105,197 refugees were resettled from one country to another. In total, 3,368,157 refugees received initial protection through asylum processes or further protection through resettlement. The largest numbers given protection or resettlement were in Turkey (1,027,137), Lebanon (364,129), Afghanistan (283,575), Russian Federation (250,307), Ethiopia (235,833), Uganda (159,046), Cameroon (149,670), Jordan (133,924), Sudan (122,699) and United States of America (96,459).

Australian statistics for 2014

According to UNHCR statistics, in the 2014 calendar year (rather than the financial year), Australia recognised 2,780 asylum seekers as refugees. This was 0.09% of the global total, leaving Australia ranked 37th overall, 46th on a per capita basis and 62nd relative to total national GDP. In refugee resettlement, Australia did much better. The arrival of 11,750 resettled refugees to Australia during 2014 accounted for 11.0% of the global total (third overall and first on a per capita basis and relative to total national GDP). In 2014, only 0.7% of UNHCR-mandated refugees were resettled.

The fairest comparison is to look at how the refugee recognition and resettlement within Australia’s total Refugee and Humanitarian Program compares on a global basis. By this measure, the 14,350 refugees recognised or resettled in Australia during 2014 made up 0.43% of the global total, with Australia ranked 22nd overall, 27th on a per capita basis and 46th relative to  total national GDP.

The 2014 statistics are similar to those of the previous decade. In the 10 years to 31 December 2014, the 141,047 refugees recognised or resettled by Australia accounted 1.16% of the global total of 12,107,623) – with Australia ranked 23rd overall, 27th per capita and 46th relative to national GDP. 

[1] Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Australia’s Offshore Humanitarian Program: 2013-14

STATISTICAL TABLES

TABLE 1:

Recognition and resettlement of refugees 2014

Country of asylum or resettlementRefugees recognised, 2014RankRefugees resettled, 2014Rank Refugee recognition and resettlement Rank Per 1000 popn Rank Per $b GDPRank
Total3,262,960105,1973,368,157
Lebanon364,1292-364,129273.32514,490.212
Nauru38967-3896838.92
Jordan133,9248-133,924817.84431,682.315
Turkey1,027,1371-1,027,137113.5434681.019
Afghanistan283,5753-283,57539.06254,677.351
Cameroon149,6707-149,67076.55662,226.333
Uganda159,0466-159,04664.09372,067.234
Sweden32,347131,971434,318143.564876.722
Malta1,47844-1,478453.4369107.1220
Sudan122,6999-122,69993.16610771.478
Congo, Republic of11,56225-11,562272.53611412.9713
Ethiopia235,8335-235,83352.442121,630.366
Kenya83,40010-83,400111.83213630.1311
Russian Federation250,3074-250,30741.752147023
Switzerland13,971211521314,123231.7321529.8731
Iraq53,71411-53,714121.54516102.8121
Chad19,66018-19,660191.48817666.410
Norway5,078341,28656,364341.251818.3338
Cyprus1,24348-1,243481.0791946.3127
Denmark5,67033344116,014351.0652023.9634
Bulgaria7,00031-7,000320.9762154.7825
Netherlands13,25022791714,041240.8362217.6341
Yemen20,17317-20,173180.80823194.7617
South Sudan8,98729-8,987300.76624345.6715
Belgium8,4793034208,513310.7642517.8140
Burundi6,78132-6,781330.64726807.287
Canada9,9432712,277222,220150.6262713.9743
Australia2,7803711,570314,350220.6092813.1846
Djibouti53159-531600.59929185.3618
Niger10,53626-10,536280.56930588.7312
Mauritania2,00141-2,001420.50231129.0619
Germany40,563122801240,843130.495321150
Finland1,346461,08962,435400.4483311.0149
Malaysia12,37823-12,378260.413416.5842
Libya2,52138-2,521380.4033525.7932
Luxembourg172802821200800.372363.3665
Greece3,85236-3,852370.3483713.544
Italy20,58216-20,582170.336389.6551
France21,093151101421,203160.328398.2153
United States of America23,4481473,011196,459100.3405.5560
Dem. Rep. of the Congo19,52019-19,520200.28241350.5314
Egypt18,66420-18,664210.2244219.7836
New Zealand154827379891510.198435.8858
United Kingdom11,76824787812,555250.198444.9462
Liberia82752-827530.18845223.5516
Namibia41566-415670.1764617.9439
South Africa9,29828-9,298290.1754713.1945
Liechtenstein114952661360.16248
Curaçao25112-251140.15549
Swaziland16781167830.1335020.6535
Other countries (105)30,87372531,598
Recognition and resettlement of refugees 2014, by receiving country (ranked on a per capita basis)

Source: UNHCR 2014 Global Trends statistical annexes (Table 3).

 

TABLE 2:

Refugees recognised and resettled, 2005-14

Country of asylum or resettlementRefugees recognised, 2014RankRefugees resettled, 2014Rank Refugee recognition and resettlement Rank Per 1000 popn Rank Per $b GDPRank
Total3,262,960105,1973,368,157
Lebanon364,1292-364,129273.32514,490.212
Nauru38967-3896838.92
Jordan133,9248-133,924817.84431,682.315
Turkey1,027,1371-1,027,137113.5434681.019
Afghanistan283,5753-283,57539.06254,677.351
Cameroon149,6707-149,67076.55662,226.333
Uganda159,0466-159,04664.09372,067.234
Sweden32,347131,971434,318143.564876.722
Malta1,47844-1,478453.4369107.1220
Sudan122,6999-122,69993.16610771.478
Congo, Republic of11,56225-11,562272.53611412.9713
Ethiopia235,8335-235,83352.442121,630.366
Kenya83,40010-83,400111.83213630.1311
Russian Federation250,3074-250,30741.752147023
Switzerland13,971211521314,123231.7321529.8731
Iraq53,71411-53,714121.54516102.8121
Chad19,66018-19,660191.48817666.410
Norway5,078341,28656,364341.251818.3338
Cyprus1,24348-1,243481.0791946.3127
Denmark5,67033344116,014351.0652023.9634
Bulgaria7,00031-7,000320.9762154.7825
Netherlands13,25022791714,041240.8362217.6341
Yemen20,17317-20,173180.80823194.7617
South Sudan8,98729-8,987300.76624345.6715
Belgium8,4793034208,513310.7642517.8140
Burundi6,78132-6,781330.64726807.287
Canada9,9432712,277222,220150.6262713.9743
Australia2,7803711,570314,350220.6092813.1846
Djibouti53159-531600.59929185.3618
Niger10,53626-10,536280.56930588.7312
Mauritania2,00141-2,001420.50231129.0619
Germany40,563122801240,843130.495321150
Finland1,346461,08962,435400.4483311.0149
Malaysia12,37823-12,378260.413416.5842
Libya2,52138-2,521380.4033525.7932
Luxembourg172802821200800.372363.3665
Greece3,85236-3,852370.3483713.544
Italy20,58216-20,582170.336389.6551
France21,093151101421,203160.328398.2153
United States of America23,4481473,011196,459100.3405.5560
Dem. Rep. of the Congo19,52019-19,520200.28241350.5314
Egypt18,66420-18,664210.2244219.7836
New Zealand154827379891510.198435.8858
United Kingdom11,76824787812,555250.198444.9462
Liberia82752-827530.18845223.5516
Namibia41566-415670.1764617.9439
South Africa9,29828-9,298290.1754713.1945
Liechtenstein114952661360.16248
Curaçao25112-251140.15549
Swaziland16781167830.1335020.6535
Other countries (105)30,87372531,598
Refugees recognised and resettled, 2005-14, by receiving country (ranked on a per capita basis)

Source: UNHCR 2014 Global Trends statistical annexes (Table 3).