The world is facing an unprecedented refugee crisis. How much do you know about this crisis and these people?
Here are 12 important facts and figures about refugees and the global refugee crisis.
There are currently 70.8 million displaced people in the world. A displaced person is someone who has been forced to leave their home due to factors such as war, persecution, natural disaster, and/or famine, and who cannot safely return home. Currently there are more than 70 million of these people in the world.
There more than 25.9 million refugees. Of those 70 million people, 25 million are refugees. This is nearly equal to the population of Canada. We are now witnessing the highest level of displacement on record, according to the UNHCR.
There is a difference between a “displaced person” and a “refugee.” A displaced person, also known as “internally displaced,” is someone who has been forced out of their home but remains in their home country (often no better off than they were before). A refugee is someone who is outside their home country and who has been granted “refugee status,” in another country.
An asylum seeker isn’t a refugee – yet. An asylum seeker is not a refugee until they are granted asylum by the country in which they are applying for asylum or “refugee” status. Broken down, a “refugee” is “one who has been given refuge.”
More than half of the world’s refugees come from three countries. These are Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan — followed by Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Canada resettled more refugees in 2018 than any other country. According to the UNHCR Canada resettled 28,100 of the 92,400 refugees who were resettled in 25 countries in 2018. The United States was second with 22,900.
That doesn’t mean there are more refugees here than anyplace else. We do not have more refugees here in Canada than anywhere else. Many other countries are hosting far more refugees than Canada. These include Turkey (3.7 million), Pakistan (1.4 million), Uganda (1.2 million), Sudan (1.1 million) and Germany (1.1 million).
Canada’s portion is a tiny fraction of the total number of global refugees. The number of refugees we settled in 2018 is 0.04% of the total population of displaced people or 0.1% of the world’s refugees.
Refugees are good for the economy: Several studies show the economic benefits of taking in refugees. A 2017 draft report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that, between 2005-2014, refugees contributed $63 billion more in tax revenue than they cost in public benefits. In fact, refugees contributed more than U.S.-born citizens during this period on a per-capita bases. Another study reportedly found that refugees in Columbus, Ohio, supported more than 21,000 jobs and contributed more than $1.6 billion to the local economy. And yet another study found that after a spike in migration, overall strength and sustainability of a country’s economy improves and unemployment rates drop.
Countries around the world have been closing their borders and putting up walls to keep refugees out. Since 2015 fences have been erected by Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Slovenia, and other countries. Turkey has built a wall to stop refugees coming from Syria. Australia has been putting refuge claimants in offshore prisons and leaving them there for many years without due process. Italy is going so far as to arrest boat captains working for the NGO Sea Watch for rescuing people at sea and bringing them to Italian waters. At time of writing, Captain Pia Klemp is potentially facing up to 20 years in prison for her role in saving 6,000 people from drowning in the Mediterranean.
Refugees can’t go home. People often ask “why don’t they just go home?” They don’t go home because home is not an option. Often, if they return home they will be imprisoned, tortured and/or executed because of their ethnicity or religious affiliations. They have run away because “home” is no longer viable. Somali-British poet Warsan Shire famously wrote “You have to understand, no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.” And nobody leaves their home behind, risking death, imprisonment, violence, and virtually endless uncertainty, for them and their families, unless that option is better than what they are leaving behind.
You would want someone to take you in, if you were a refugee. It’s a fact. If it were you, you would want someone to show you compassion.
Want to help? Get in touch: e bromstein @ gmail dot com