World Refugee Day – 8 things you need to know

This World Refugee Day, Digital Content Volunteer Mariia shares the latest stats from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to help shed light on the current state of global displacement.

1. A Brief History of World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations in 2001 to honour the courage, strength, and resilience of refugees. Held every year on June 20th, this day seeks to raise awareness about the plight of refugees and displaced persons, and to garner support for their rights and well-being.

2. Record numbers of people around the world are displaced

The number of people around the world who have been forced to flee conflict, violence and persecution has reached an all-time high.

At the end of 2023, an estimated 117.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide. That equates to 1 in every 6 people on earth.

And it gets worse. UNHCR estimates that by the end of April 2024, the number of people forced from their homes is likely to have risen to more than 120 million.

3. Children in Crisis

An estimated 47 million of the world’s displaced people are children below the age of 18 – that equates to 40%. 2 million of those children were born as refugees. Many face significant challenges, including limited access to education and healthcare.

4. Why do people flee?

People are forced to flee their homes to escape war, persecution, violence, human rights violations and serious public disorder

In the past year, conflict in Gaza and Sudan has created desperate humanitarian crises. Elsewhere, violence in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Yemen, the DR Congo and many other parts of the world continued. We have also seen reports of mass persecution in Iran and systemic oppression of women and girls in Afghanistan.

5. What countries are people fleeing?

Of those forced to flee their homes, 68.3 million are Internally Displaced People who remain within their home country.

43.4 million people are refugees who have crossed international borders in search of safety. Nearly three quarters of all refugees come from just five countries: Afghanistan; Syria: Venezuela; Ukraine and South Sudan.

6. Where do people seek safety?

Most refugees remain close to their country of origin. 69% of people seeking safety are hosted in neighbouring countries.

Low and middle-income countries host 75% of the world’s refugees. 39% of people seeking safety are hosted in just five countries: Iran, Turkey, Colombia, Germany and Pakistan.

7. How many people seek asylum in Scotland?

As a rule of thumb, around 10% of people seeking asylum in the UK are dispersed to Scotland. In December 2023, there were 5,847 people in Scotland receiving asylum support.

8. Rise in solidarity

World Refugee Day is a reminder of the importance of global solidarity. Everyone can rise up and play a role in supporting refugees, through advocacy, donations, or simply raising awareness. The international community’s support is crucial in ensuring the safety and dignity of refugees.

How you can help