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20 June, 2016

Record-high numbers of displaced worldwide

UNHCR report for 2015

  • Global forced displacement has increased in 2015, with record-high numbers. By the end of the year, 65.3 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations. This is 5.8 million more than the previous year (59.5 million).

  • An estimated 12.4 million people were newly displaced due to conflict or persecution in 2015. This included 8.6 million individuals displaced within the borders of their own country and 1.8 million newly displaced refugees. The others were new applicants for asylum.

  • Developing regions hosted 86 percent of the world’s refugees under UNHCR’s mandate. At 13.9 million people, this was the highest figure in more than two decades. The Least Developed Countries provided asylum to 4.2 million refugees or about 26 per cent of the global total.

  • UNHCR estimates that at least 10 million people globally were stateless at the end of 2015. However, data recorded by governments and communicated to UNHCR were limited to 3.7 million stateless individuals in 78 countries.

  • On average 24 people worldwide were displaced from their homes every minute of every day during 2015 – some 34,000 people per day. This compares to 30 per minute in 2014 and 6 per minute in 2005.

  • Lebanon hosted the largest number of refugees in relation to its national population, with 183 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants. Jordan (87) and Nauru (50) ranked second and third, respectively.

  • More than half (54%) of all refugees worldwide came from just three countries: the Syrian Arab Republic (4.9 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), and Somalia (1.1 million).

  • By end-2015, about 3.2 million people were waiting for a decision on their application for asylum.

  • During 2015, only 201,400 refugees returned to their countries of origin. Most returned to Afghanistan (61,400), Sudan (39,500), Somalia (32,300), or the Central African Republic (21,600).


  • Asylum-seekers submitted a record high number of new applications for asylum or refugee status – estimated at 2.0 million. With 441,900 asylum claims, Germany was the world’s largest recipient of new individual applications, followed by the United States of America (172,700), Sweden (156,400), and the Russian Federation (152,500).

  • In 2015, UNHCR submitted 134,000 refugees to States for resettlement. According to government statistics, States admitted 107,100 refugees for resettlement during the year, with or without UNHCR’s assistance. The United States of America accepted the highest number (66,500).

  • Children below 18 years of age constituted about half of the refugee population in 2015, up from 41 per cent in 2009 and the same as in 2014.

  • Unaccompanied or separated children in 78 countries – mainly Afghans, Eritreans, Syrians, and Somalis – lodged some 98,400 asylum applications in 2015. This was the highest number on record since UNHCR started collecting such data in 2006.

Full report:

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