The core information and statistics given here come from UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency



What is a Refugee?

A refugee is a person who:

‘owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country’

Article 1, 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees

What is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is someone who has applied for asylum and is waiting for a decision as to whether or not they are a refugee. In other words, in the UK an asylum seeker is someone who has asked the Government for refugee status and is waiting to hear the outcome of their application.

At least 1.66 million people submitted applications for asylum in 2014, the highest level ever recorded.

(this data excludes the surge increases of 2015)


How many refugees are there in the UK?

At the end of 2014, the population of refugees, pending asylum cases and stateless persons made up just 0.24% of the population. That’s 117,161 refugees, 36,383 pending asylum cases and 16 stateless persons.

The vast majority of refugees stay in their region of displacement, so that 86% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries. Turkey now hosts the highest number of refugees at 1.6million, followed by Pakistan at 1.5million (this data excludes the surge increases of 2015)

(Source: UNHCR 2014 Global Trends Report)


Where do asylum seekers in the UK come from?

As of 2014, the top three countries of origin were: Eritrea (3,568), Pakistan (2,302), and Syria (2,204)

(this data excludes the surge increases of 2015)

(Source: Office for National Statistics Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, August 2015)

What is a bogus asylum seeker?

There is no such thing as a bogus asylum seeker or an illegal asylum seeker. As an asylum seeker, a person has entered into a legal process of refugee status determination. Everybody has a right to seek asylum in another country. People who don’t qualify for protection as refugees will not receive refugee status and may be deported, but just because someone doesn’t receive refugee status doesn’t mean they are a bogus asylum seeker.

Let us remember that a bogus asylum-seeker is not equivalent to a criminal; and that an unsuccessful asylum application is not equivalent to a bogus one Kofi Annan


What benefits do asylum seekers receive in the UK?

The majority of asylum seekers do not have the right to work in the United Kingdom and so must rely on state support.

Accommodation is provided, but asylum seekers cannot choose where it is, and it is often ‘hard to let’ properties which Council tenants do not want to live in.

Cash support is available, and is currently set at £36.95 per person, per week, which makes it £5.28 a day for food, sanitation and clothing.

(Source: Home Office)


How many people are living forcibly displaced from their homes worldwide?

59.5 million. An estimated 13.9 million people were newly displaced due to conflict or persecution, including 2.9 million new refugees. By the end of 2014 the number of people assisted or protected by UNHCR had reached a record high of 46.7 million people. These numbers include refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people (IDPs)


How many refugees are there worldwide?

There were 19.5 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2014

During the year, conflict and persecution forced an average of 42,500 persons per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere, either within the borders of their countries or in other countries.


Where are most refugees now?

In 2014, the country hosting the largest number of refugees was Turkey, with 1.59 million refugees. By the end of 2014, Syria had become the world’s top source country of refugees, overtaking Afghanistan, which had held this position for more than three decades. Today, on average, almost one out of every four refugees is Syrian, with 95 per cent located in countries surrounding Syria. The events of 2015 will have changed these statistical details.


Recent info re Europe:

By early September 2015 380,000 refugees had crossed the Mediterranean.

According to UN figures, 75% of the total refugees hail from countries in the midst of armed conflict or humanitarian crises. 50% are Syrian; 13% are Afghans 8% are Eritreans ; 4% are Nigerians, 3% are Somalians; 3% Iraqis; 2% Sudanese

See fuller article at : http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/10/refugee-crisis-apart-from-syrians-who-else-is-travelling-to-europe   Statistical source: the UN refugee agency



How many refugees are children?

Last year, 51% of refugees worldwide were under 18 years old. This is the highest figure for child refugees in more than a decade. (The events of 2015 will have increased these numbers.)


What are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

By end of 2014, 38.2 million people had been forcibly uprooted people and displaced within their own country. They are known as internally displaced people (IDPs).


Continued fighting in the Syrian Arab Republic brought the number of IDPs in that country to 7.6 million, the highest number anywhere in the world. Iraq witnessed massive new internal displacement as a result of the Islamic State (or ‘ISIS’) offensive across multiple parts of the country. In addition to the 1 million existing IDPs who had fled violence in previous years, at least 2.6 million persons were newly displaced during 2014, bringing the year-end Iraqi figure to 3.6 million IDPs. Renewed conflict and security concerns in Afghanistan meant that by the end of 2014 the number of IDPs in that country was estimated at 805,000. Renewed fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo displaced one million people, bringing the total number of IDPs in the country to 2.8 million. The conflict in South Sudan, which erupted in December 2013, displaced more than 1.5 million individuals within the country.


Where can I learn more?

Here are some books which people might like to explore:

  • Patrick Kingsley, The New Odyssey. The Story of Europes Refugee Crisis (2017)
  • Wendy Pearlman, We Crossed a Bridge and We Trembled: Voices from Syria (2017)
  • Alexander Betts & Paul Collier, Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System (2017)
  • Ben Rawlence, City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp
  • Gulwali Passarlay, The Lightless Sky: My Journey to Safety as a Child Refugee
  • Jonny Steinberg, A Man of Good Hope
  • Khalid Kosec, International Migration. A very short introduction
  • Thought-provoking  spoken word poem  Foreign by Hollie McNich https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSoP3jaMmeU