Refugee Council of Australia
Man walking across ground in Africa
Home > Get the facts > Refugees in the world > Why people need to leave

Why people need to leave

Why people need to leave

In the past two decades, since 2011, the number of people forced to leave home has increased dramatically, with a 75% increase between 1996 and 2015.

There are many reasons why people may need to leave, and often these reasons are linked and reinforce each other. It can be useful to distinguish between reasons that trigger someone to leave immediately – such as conflict or a natural disaster – and the underlying reasons that can create those situations, such as climate change or poor governance.

The first can be thought of as ‘triggers’, while the second (sometimes referred to as ‘root causes’ can be thought of as ‘drivers’. For example, ‘drivers’ of forced migration include:

  • environmental drivers: including desertification and damming of tributaries
  • social drivers: such as limited education opportunities and tensions between communities
  • political drivers: such as poor urban planning and corruption, and
  • economic drivers: such as poverty and lack of access to markets.

For example, drought forced 1.5 million Syrians to move from rural to urban areas between 2007-2010, which contributed to the current conflict.

The most common drivers, however, are political. Not surprisingly, people often feel forced to leave countries where they do not enjoy political, civil and social rights.

Be a champion for refugee rights

Join our mailing list and be the first to receive active resources. We need you to show Australia cares about refugees.


  • Category

  • Topic