20 June 2011: A global UNHCR report released to coincide with World Refugee Day today reveals that four-fifths of the world’s 15.4 million refugees are hosted by developing countries, and that three-quarters of all refugees reside in countries neighbouring their country of origin.
The Global Trends 2010 report shows that Pakistan, Iran and Syria host the largest refugee populations, with 1.9 million, 1.1 million and 1 million respectively, while Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya bear the largest impact of hosting refugees in relation to the size of their economies.
The new figures highlight a public misperception about supposed floods of refugees in industrialized countries, UNHCR’s Regional Representative for Australia, New Zealand, PNG and the Pacific Richard Towle said today.
"The preoccupation with boats overshadows the fact that more than 80 per cent of the world’s refugees are hosted by mainly developing States neighbouring refugees’ countries of origin," Mr Towle said. "In global terms, the number of refugees and asylum-seekers in Australia (25,565) is very small."
This year also marks the 60th Anniversary year of the 1951 Refugee Convention, and UNHCR has launched a campaign to reaffirm the core protection principles of the Convention and to build support to address new and emerging challenges of forced displacement.
"For sixty years the Refugee Convention has been the legal and moral cornerstone for the international protection of refugees and forcibly displaced people," Mr Towle said. "It is still the most important human rights instrument for refugees, and now, more than ever, we need the international community to reaffirm its commitment to its principles and core values of protection."
The 2010 Global Trends report paints a drastically different protection environment to that facing the UN Refugee Agency when it was founded 60 years ago. At that time UNHCR’s caseload of was 2.1 million Europeans uprooted by World War Two. Today, there are 43.7 million people displaced worldwide including 15.4 million refugees, 27.5 million people displaced within their own country by conflict, and nearly 850,000 asylum-seekers.
"In our region, part of the challenge of this new environment is to engage in cooperative approaches to increase the protection space for refugees and other forcibly displaced people," Mr Towle said. "Australia has an important leadership role to play in meeting these challenges."
Download Global Trends 2010.