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 is an estimated 59.5 million people displaced worldwide (UNHCR, 2015)

  • This figure includes 19.5 million refugees, an estimated 38.2 million ‘internally displaced people’, those who have left their home but have not crossed an international border and 1.8 million Asylum Seekers.
*This amounts to 42,500 people fleeing their homes each day. *There have been 13.9 million people new displaced last year alone.
  • 49% of refugees are women, whilst 51% are under the age of 18.

86% of the worlds Refugees are hosted by developing countries (UNHCR, 2015)

  • Turkey currently hosts the highest number of refugees worldwide amounting to 1.59 million people.
  • Following Turkey the countries who host the highest number of refugees are Pakistan, Lebanon, Islamic Republic of Iran, Ethiopia and Jordan.
  • Most refugees flee to their neighbouring country whilst only a small proportion travel to developed countries in Europe and elsewhere.

In 2014, Eritrea, Pakistan and Syria were the top three countries that people seeking asylum in the UK came from (UNHCR, 2015)

  • Many other asylum applications in recent years have been from people from Iran, Albania, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nigeria and India.
  • 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 10 million Syrian’s are currently displaced, this amounts to 45% of the Syrian population.
  • More than 4 million people have now fled Syria. By August 2014, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon had reached 1.1 million.
  • The UNHCR have called the situation “a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history”.
  • Despite these figures the UK government have only resettled 187 Syrian refugees, whilst a combined effort from Germany and Sweden has resettled 96,500 displaced Syrians.

Only 0.24% of the UK population are Refugees

  • At the end of 2014, the population of refugees, pending asylum cases and stateless persons made up just 0.24% of the population of the UK
  • 86% of refugees are hosted by developing countries.
  • Refugees only account for a tiny percentage of overall immigration.
  • In 2014, the UK received 25,020 asylum applications.
  • 60% of all of these claims were initially refused, with only 28% of refused asylum seekers making successful appeals.
  • The UK currently hosts 117,161 Refugees, 36,383 Asylum Seekers and 16 stateless people.

Asylum Seekers survive on £5.27 per day

  • From 10th August 2015 every asylum seeker will receive £36.95 per week despite personal circumstances.
  • 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.
  • In comparison a single unemployed UK citizen would receive between £59.70 and £73.10 plus other benefits they may be eligible for.
  • Asylum seekers do not qualify for council housing tenancy or housing benefit.
  • Asylum seekers do not have permission to work in the UK.

Seeking Asylum is not a crime

  • Thousands of asylum seekers will be detained each year for the duration of their asylum process, despite the right to seek asylum being enshrined in the Declaration of Human Rights.
  • There are 12 immigration removal centres across the UK.
  • 13,636 asylum seekers were detained in 2014.
  • Children have also been illegally detained within these detention centres.

Further Information

All of the information on this page is taken from the UNHCR and the UK Government. For more statistics on refugees check out the links below:

UNHCR Facts and Figures about Refugees
UNHCR Global Trends – Forced Displacement in 2014
UNHCR: The Facts: Asylum in the UK.
Home Office Immigration Statistics
Home Office Asylum Support Rates
Amnesty International Facts and Figures: Syria Refugee crisis & International resettlement
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre – Detention and Refugee Statistics
Refugee Council – Detention in the asylum system