Refugee Council of Australia
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Global refugee numbers

How many refugees are there in the world? Where do they come from, and where do they live? This page explores the key global refugee numbers, drawn from UNHCR’s Global Trends 2017 report and its statistical appendices. This report publishes statistics at the end of 2017 (and is published in 2018).

You can also read our analysis of that report. You can download the data for these graphs here.

How many people are forcibly displaced?

Bar chart showing numbers of people forcibly displaced

At the end of 2017, the number of people forcibly displaced reached a high of 68.5 million people. This included 25.4 million refugees under both UNHCR’s mandate and UNRWA (which looks after Palestinian refugees).

Where do they come from?

Bar chart showing top 10 countries of origin

The top 10 countries of origin is headed once again by Syria and Afghanistan. However, African countries dominate the top ten countries of origin.

Where do they go?

Bar chart showing top 10 hosts by numbers

People flee overwhelming to neighbouring countries. Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Iran (the top four) are close to major countries of origin.

Bar showing top 10 hosts by population

This graph lists the number of refugees compared to the population of a country. The country with the largest proportionate number of refugees is Lebanon, followed by Nauru. Australia is 57th on the list.

Bar chart showing top 10 hosts by GDP

This graph lists the number of refugees compared to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country. Most of the countries in the top 10 are in Africa. Australia is 94th on the list.

Which countries have the most asylum applications?

Bar chart showing top 10 countries receiving asylum applications

This graph shows the top 10 countries with asylum applications pending at the end of 2017. As developing countries which are major hosts of refugees often don’t have refugee status determination systems, this list is dominated by developed countries.

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Contact us

Do you have a question about our statistics, or would you like to know more information? Contact us at policy@refugeecouncil.org.au.

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