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Refugees Protected in Australia at 7-Year High, UNHCR Data Shows

The number of refugees granted protection or resettlement in Australia in 2023 reached its second highest level in more than 40 years, the Refugee Council of Australia’s analysis of data from UNHCR’s new Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2023 report reveals.

Read full analysis and statistics in PDF report.

240619 Australia in 2023 global refugee statistics
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The granting of more than 12,000 permanent visas to refugees previously on temporary protection visas pushed the number of refugees recognised or resettled in Australia in 2023 to 29,892, the highest level since the height of Australia’s special intake of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in 2016. RCOA’s analysis of UNHCR data since 1980 shows that the 34,193 refugees resettled or recognised in Australia in 2016 was the highest number for any single calendar year over the past four decades.

In 2023, Australia recognised 14,669 refugees (the highest level ever recorded in UNHCR data) and resettled 15,223 refugees. This was 1.03% of the 2,909,242 refugees recognised or resettled globally in 2023. The largest number of refugees recognised or resettled in 2023 were in Chad (492,038), Germany (295,897), Poland (232,778), Armenia (142,011) and United States (136,338). By this measure, Australia was 26th overall, 39th per capita and 62nd relative to national gross domestic product (GDP).

Refugees recognised aus

Forced displacement: The 2023 calendar year saw the number of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate grow by 2.2 million to 31.6 million. The 6 million Palestinian refugees under the mandate of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) pushed the global refugee population to 37.6 million, the highest number ever recorded. The UNHCR data also records 6.9 million people seeking asylum, 5.8 million displaced Venezuelans in need of protection and 68.3 million internally displaced people. As those internally displaced include more than 1 million Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, UNHCR estimates the total number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2023 at 117.3 million, an increase of 8.9 million people on the previous year.

Refugees hosted: Of the 2.75 million refugees recognised in 2023, the largest numbers of newly displaced refugees were from Ukraine (944,676), Sudan (628,347), Syria (161,981), Azerbaijan (142,956) and Afghanistan (127,631). Of the 31.6 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate as at December 2023, the largest numbers were from Afghanistan (6.4 million), Syria (6.36 million), Ukraine (5.96 million), South Sudan (2.29 million), Sudan (1.5 million) and Myanmar (1.28 million). The states hosting the largest numbers of refugees were Iran (3.76 million), Turkiye (3.25 million), Germany (2.59 million), Pakistan (1.99 million) and Uganda (1.58 million).

Resettlement: While the number of refugees resettled in 2023 increased by 44,349 on the previous year to 158,591, only 0.5% of the refugees under UNHCR’s mandate had access to resettlement last year. The United States (75,043) and Canada (51,098) received 79.5% of the refugees resettled in 2023. Of the 22 other nations involved in resettlement, Australia was next with 15,223 refugees resettled, followed by Germany (4,547), France (2,825), Norway (2,096) and New Zealand (1,480). Canada was by far the most generous resettlement nation on a per capita basis (1.33 refugees per 1000 population) with Australia second (0.58) and Norway third (0.39).

Asylum applications: After a four-fold increase between 2015 and 2022 in the number of unresolved asylum applications in Australia, the number of pending applications declined in 2023 by 5,128 to 82,625. Globally, the number of pending asylum applications increased in 2023 by 1.53 million to 6.86 million. The largest numbers of pending claims are in the United States (2.6 million), Peru (508,429), Germany (361,493), Mexico (257,396) and Egypt (232,244). Australia is 14th overall and 21st on a per capita basis.

Asylum prending aus

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