20 June 2018

Africa: Facts About World Refugee Day

Photo: The Citizen Tanzania
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that a total of $270 million (about Sh600 billion) is required in response to the needs of displaced Burundian and Congolese refugees living in various camps in Tanzania.

Who is a refugee?

The United Nations defines refugees as people fleeing conflict or persecution. They are granted refugee status by the country they enter, which grants them protection under international law and makes them eligible for aid. People who are displaced from their homes but remain in their country are not considered refugees.

How many refugees are there worldwide?

As of mid-2017, 65.6 million people have been displaced. Of that number, 22.5 million fled to other countries. More than half of them are under 18 years old, the highest number of child refugees since World War II. In 2016, 75,000 children applied for asylum as "unaccompanied minors." Most were from Afghanistan and Syria.

As of March 22, 2018, the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has registered 5.6 million refugees. UNHCR estimates nearly one in 100 people worldwide have been pushed out of their countries due to war or political instability.

Where are they from?

Syria, which has been ravaged by conflict for seven years, has created the highest number of refugees. An estimated 660,000 Syrians fled the country in 2017, bringing the total number of Syrian refugees to 5.6 million. Most have settled in neighboring countries. An additional 6.6 million have been displaced within Syria.

The conflict in Afghanistan has resulted in 2.5 million refugees.

The young country of South Sudan accounted for 1.4 million refugees.

Religious and ethnic conflict has sent 1.1 million fleeing from Myanmar.

As of April 2017, more than 876,000 people have fled Somalia.

Where are they going?

Turkey remains the largest host of refugees globally, with nearly 3 million refugees reported living inside its borders at the end of 2016.

Pakistan is second with 1.6 million.

Lebanon is third with 1 million.

Rounding out the top 10 are Iran with 978, 000; Ethiopia with nearly 740,000; Jordan with 700,000; Kenya with 523,000; Uganda with 512,000; Germany with 470,000; and Chad with 380,000.

What is World Refugee Day?

World Refugee Day highlights the plight of people who have escaped conflict and are rebuilding their lives. It is observed on June 20 by communities and civic groups around the world to raise public awareness to the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons.

World Refugee Day is a midpoint of UNHCR's #WithRefugees World Tour, which runs from April to October. The tour consists of dozens of public events, starting with Sports Day at Jordan's Za'atari refugee camp.

Among the events on the tour will be a fashion show in Chicago, featuring fabrics made by refugees in Kenya; a refugee football match in Ireland; a photo exhibit in Paris; and judo competitions in South Africa.

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