UNHCR reports worldwide forced displacement above 68 million in 2017

19 Jun 2018

The UNHCR state 68.5 million people were displaced globally as of the end of 2017 in their Global Trends report, which is released annually ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June.

2017 is the fifth year in a row that has seen an increase in global forced displacement.  This is an increase of 2.9 million when compared to 2016 and is the biggest increase UNHCR has seen in a single year.  This increase is attributed to wars, other violence and persecution led by the crisis in Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan’s war, and the flight into Bangladesh from Myanmar of Rohingya refugees.

Breakdown of figures

  • 25.4 million refugees have left their countries to escape conflict and persecution.
  • 3.1 million asylum-seekers were still awaiting the outcome of their claims to refugee status as of 31 December 2017
  • 40 million people displaced inside their own country.

The report shows that 85 per cent of refugees are in developing countries with four out of five refugees remaining in countries next door to their own. Large-scale displacement across borders is less common with almost two thirds of people forced to flee displaced internally within their own countries. Over a fifth of the 25.4 million refugees, are Palestinians under the care of UNRWA. Of the remainder, two thirds come from just five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. An end to conflict in any one of these regions has potential to influence the wider global displacement.

Other significant findings of the report include that 58 per cent of refugees live in urban areas rather than camps or rural areas.  The report also shows that 53 per cent of the global displaced population are children many of whom are unaccompanied or separated from their families.

In 2017, Turkey hosted the most refugees in terms of absolute numbers with a population of 3.5 million refugees, mainly Syrians. Lebanon hosted the largest number of refugees relative to its national population.  The number of resettled refugees decreased by over 40 per cent to 100,000 people in 2017 due to a drop in the number of resettlement places on offer.

For more information:

Download UNHCR Global Trends report