2008 Forced Migration statistics – the extent of displacement

17 Jun

According to the 2008 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum- seekers, returnees, internally-displacd and stateless persons, there are 42 million forcibly displaced people globally by the end of 2008. This includes 15.2 million refugees, 827,000 asylum seekers (pending cases) and 26 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Of the 15.2 million refugees, 10.5 million are under the UNHCR mandate while 4.7 million are under the UNRWA auspices. UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency which provides humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees. Based on this figure,  it can be assumed that at least (4.7/ 42  X 100 = 11.19) percent of forced migrants are Palestinians.

Given that this report focuses only on forced migrants who are only under the UNHCR mandate (25.1 million), this means that (42.0 – 25.1 – 4.7 = 12. 2) million or approximately 29% of all forced migrants are not ‘protected or assisted’ by the UN agencies. This is a significant number of IDP, asylum-seekers and refugees that deserves attention from the UN, governments and NGOs.

The interim report [from here onwards, the commentary follows the report findings which only indicates those under the UNHCR mandate] also reveals certain interesting figures.

For example, it contradicts the widely-held perception that most developed Western states are absorbing most of the world’s refugees. The report estimates that developing countries are host to four-fifths of the world’s refugees. Pakistan has the largest number of refugees at 1.8 million followed by Syria at 1.1 million and Iran at 980,000. Most of the refugees in Syria are from Iraq while Pakistan and Iran is host to mostly Afghanis.

In contrast, only 88,000 refugees are resettled in 16 countries last year with US leading at 60,200; Australia at 11,000; Canada at 10,800; Sweden at 2,200; and Finland at 750. From these statistics, it can be inferred that developed states should shoulder more responsibilities in this aspect. This is because most of these states are more capable of absorbing these refugees given their economic standing. Moreover, most of the world’s refugees are from Iraq and Afghanistan [under the UNHCR mandate, the largest groups are Afghanis (2.8 million) followed by Iraqis (1.9 million) ] . Given that most of the Western states are part of the NATO coalition in the invasion of Afghanistan, [and to a certain extent, Iraq] they therefore, have an additional moral obligation to providing resettlement for these displaced people.

This is however the least likely option for most refugees. In 2008, only one percent  of refugees under the UNHCR mandate were resettled. Overall, out of one resettled refugee, 14 have been repatriated since 1999. Since this figure could include voluntary and involuntary repatriation, it is difficult to conclude how many would be returned safely back to their homes.

While refugees in Africa (excluding North Africa) continues to decline, there are still 2.1 million of them by the end of 2008. The number of IDPs are still significant in the region – 5.257 million. [DRC – 1.5 million; Somalia – 1.3 million; Kenya – 404,000; Uganda – 853,000; Sudan – 1.2 million].

Such grim figures reveal the extent of forced migration which is becoming an area of immediate concern for governments, policy-makers and scholars.




One Response to “2008 Forced Migration statistics – the extent of displacement”

  1. Santa Biezā November 28, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    thanks for useful article! One of first results , when looking up for this topic!

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