Refugee Council of Australia
Panama migrants and refugees continue to cross the darien jungle in

Is Australia’s response to refugees generous? An analysis of UNHCR Global Trends statistics from 2013 to 2022

Refugees under UNHCR's mandate

Of the 29.4 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate as at December 2022, more than half originate from just five countries – Syria (6.54 million), Ukraine (3.86 million), Afghanistan (2.56 million), South Sudan (2.29 million) and Myanmar (1.15 million).

The 10 main host countries are Türkiye (3.57 million refugees), Iran (3.43 million), Germany (2.08 million), Pakistan (1.74 million), Uganda (1.46 million), Russia (1.28 million), Sudan (1.1 million), Poland (971,129), Bangladesh (952,384) and Ethiopia (879,598). Australia was ranked 60th with 54,430 refugees (0.19% of the global total).

On a per capita basis, Australia was ranked 72nd with 2.08 refugees per 1000 population, well behind Lebanon with 149.6 refugees per 1000 population, Jordan with 61.83 and Montenegro with 51.73.

Relative to national wealth, Australia was 109th with 35 refugees for every $1 billion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), well behind Chad with 50,320 refugees per $1 billion GDP, Uganda (36,110) and Lebanon (35,400).

RCOA comment: The number of refugees under UNHCR's mandate is not an effective guide to the comparative refugee response of host countries, as resettlement is excluded and many of the refugees counted have been left for years with no durable solution. In the case of host countries such as Türkiye, Iran and Pakistan, this measure records the number of refugees still waiting for a durable solution. However, for high income countries like Australia where many people who have sought asylum are given permanent residency as soon as their refugee status is recognised (thereby resolving their refugee status), UNHCR records refugees given permanent protection over the previous 10 years. In Australia's case, refugees on temporary protection visas are also included, as their status remains unresolved.

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