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.

The number of refugees around the world keeps growing and has reached 25.9 million people (UNHCR, 2018)

  • This number includes 20.4 million people under UNHCR’s mandate and 5.5 million under UNRWA’s mandate.
  • There are a further 41.3 million internally displaced people and 3.5 million people seeking asylum, meaning the number of displaced people worldwide has reached 70.8 million.
  • Every day, there was an average of 37,000 new displacements every day.
  • 13.6 million people were newly displaced last year alone.
  • Children under 18 years old made up about half of the refugee population in 2018.

16% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries (UNHCR, 2018)

  • Turkey currently hosts the highest number of refugees worldwide amounting to 3.7 million people.
  • Following Turkey the countries who host the highest number of refugees are Pakistan, Uganda, Sudan and Germany.
  • Most refugees flee to their neighbouring country whilst only a small proportion travel to developed countries in Europe and elsewhere.

In 2018, Iran, Iraq, Eritrea, Pakistan, and Albania were the top five countries that people seeking asylum in the UK came from (Refugee Council, 2018)

  • Eritrea, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh have been in the top ten countries of origin of those seeking asylum in the UK in every one of the last 7 years.
  • Most of these countries have either recently experienced conflict or have well-documented human rights abuses.

The ‘the world’s forcibly displaced population remained yet again at a record high’, says UNHCR

  • Most of the world’s refugees are from Syria Arab Republic, with 6.7 million people having fled their country.
  • In 2018, 13.6 million people were newly displaced, 889,400 of these are Syrians.
  • Syrians continued to be the largest forcibly displaced population, with 13.0 million people living in displacement.
  • 98% of the refugee population in Turkey are Syrian, with 3,622,400 people.

29,380 people (excluding dependents) applied for asylum in the UK

  • The number of people claiming asylum in the UK was 9% higher than in 2017.
  • 67% of decisions for asylum grants in the UK were refusals.
  • Refugees only account for a tiny percentage of overall immigration.
  • The percentage of decisions to grant refugee status was the lowest in the past 5 years.

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.