Basic Facts & Figures

The welcoming and protection of refugees is not a numbers game. Every refugee’s personal experience is unique. Nevertheless, because there are a lot of wrong numbers out there it’s good to know some of the right ones.

There are an estimated 65.6 million people displaced worldwide (UNHCR, 2017)

  • This figure includes 22.5 million refugees, an estimated 40.3 million ‘internally displaced people’, those who have left their home but have not crossed an international border and 2.8 million asylum seekers.
  • This amounts to the number of new displacement equivalent to 20 people being forced to flee their homes every minute of 2016.
  • There have been 10.3 million people newly displaced last year alone.
  • 51% of refugees are children under the age of 18.

84% of the worlds Refugees are hosted by developing countries (UNHCR, 2017)

  • Turkey currently hosts the highest number of refugees worldwide amounting to 2.9 million people.
  • Following Turkey the countries who host the highest number of refugees are Pakistan, Lebanon, Islamic Republic of Iran, Uganda and Ethiopia.
  • Most refugees flee to their neighbouring country whilst only a small proportion travel to developed countries in Europe and elsewhere.

In 2016, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Bangladesh were the top five countries that people seeking asylum in the UK came from (Home Office, 2017)

  • Eritrea, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have been in the top ten in every one of the last five years.
  • Most of these countries have either recently experienced conflict or have well-documented human rights abuses.

The refugee crisis in Syria is “the great tragedy of this century”, says UNHCR

  • 1 in every 4 refugees worldwide are Syrian.
  • More than 12 million Syrian’s are currently displaced, this amounts to over half of the Syrian population.
  • 5.5 million people have now fled Syria. By 2016, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon had reached 1 million.The UK has only resettled around 11,000 Syrian refugees since 2014.
  • The UNHCR have called the situation “a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history”.

Only 0.24% of the UK population are refugees

  • By mid- 2015, the population of refugees, pending asylum cases and stateless persons made up just 0.24% of the population of the UK. 117,234 refugees, 37,829 pending asylum cases and 16 stateless people.
  • 84% of refugees are hosted by developing countries.
  • Refugees only account for a tiny percentage of overall immigration.
  • In 2016, 30, 747 people (excluding dependants) claimed asylum in the UK, 6% less than in 2015.
  • 40% of appeals against negative Home Office decisions were successful in 2016.

Asylum Seekers survive on £5.39 per day

  • A single adult receives £37.75 in cash per week for living expenses
  • Asylum seekers do not have permission to work in the UK.
  • Refused asylum seekers receive the same rate of support on an electronic payment card that restricts how the funds are spent. For example you can not pay for travel with this card.
  • Asylum seekers cannot claim mainstream benefits and do not qualify for council housing tenancy or housing benefit.
  • In comparison a single unemployed UK citizen would receive between £59.70 and £73.10 plus other benefits they may be eligible for.

Further Information

All of the information on this page is taken from the UNHCR, Home Office and Refugee Council.