Countries Hosting the Most Refugees
The U.S. and NATO military withdrawal from Afghanistan put a spotlight on the dire humanitarian conditions in the country, as thousands seek to flee the onset of Taliban rule. U.N. officials are warning the withdrawal is triggering a new wave of Afghan refugees, both within the country and abroad, as thousands of people are scrambling to leave the nation.
As 2020 closed out, the U.N. estimated a total of 82.4 million people had been forcibly displaced around the world due to persecution, violence or events that disrupted public order. That includes roughly 48 million people displaced within their own country, 26.4 million who are labeled as refugees, 4.1 million as asylum-seekers and nearly 4 million Venezuelans displaced outside of their country.
The U.N. has specific definitions for “asylum-seeker” and “refugee.” An asylum-seeker is a person who is seeking international protection, but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined. Not every asylum-seeker will ultimately be recognized as a refugee, but every refugee was initially an asylum-seeker.
Here is a list of the 10 countries that are hosting the most refugees. The U.N.’s most recent data is from mid-2020.
No. 10: Ethiopia
Ethiopia currently hosts the third-largest number by country in Africa. Most refugees come from neighboring nations in the Horn of Africa region, including Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and South Sudan.
No. 9: Bangladesh
The vast majority of refugees in Bangladesh come from neighboring Myanmar, where in August 2017 that country’s military began a brutal crackdown on the country’s minority Muslim Rohingya population that U.N. officials say amounts to ethnic cleansing, and possibly genocide. U.N. officials now warn of worsening security conditions in the refugee camps that could lead to increases in child marriage and domestic violence between refugees.
No. 8: Lebanon
The small Middle Eastern country of Lebanon has absorbed many who fled neighboring Syria during its civil war. International observers now warn that Lebanon itself is on the brink of collapse, thanks to increasing social tensions from an economic meltdown and the government’s inability to undertake reforms that would unlock badly needed international relief.
No. 7: Iran
Even before the current crisis in Afghanistan, the vast majority of refugees in Iran are Afghans. The U.N. refugee agency says the number of undocumented Afghan refugees in Iran may be as high as 2 million.
No. 6: Sudan
Sudan is another country in the Horn of Africa region that hosts people fleeing violence in their countries, and its refugee camps are populated by people from South Sudan, Eritrea, Chad, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic. And although Sudan became a secular state in 2020, the largely Muslim country also hosts refugees from Syria.
No. 5: Germany
In 2015, Germany was on the forefront of countries accepting refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced countries to impose lockdowns, Germany’s overall refugee population in 2020 decreased for the first time in nine years, the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.
No. 4: Uganda
Beginning in the 1940s, Uganda began a long history of accepting refugees that continues to this day. The majority of refugees in the East African country come from South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The government in August agreed to a U.S. request to accept 2,000 Afghan refugees.
No. 3: Pakistan
The vast majority of refugees in Pakistan are Afghans who fled from previous Taliban rule, making Pakistan host to one of the longest protracted refugee crises in the world. Home to an estimated additional 1 million unregistered Afghan refugees, Pakistan has experienced a new wave of Afghan refugees at the Spin Boldak border crossing.
No. 2: Colombia
In recent years Venezuela has produced the world’s second-largest displacement of people, behind only Syria. Nearly one-third of Venezuelan refugees have flowed into neighboring Colombia, where officials announced at the beginning of 2021 a program that will register the refugees in a move to provide access to health care and legal work opportunities.
No. 1: Turkey
Turkey is host to the world’s largest refugee population, as it is home to Syrians who a decade ago began fleeing their country’s violence. To stem the flow of refugees into Europe, the EU reached an agreement with Turkish officials in 2016 to host large numbers in return for billions of euros to fund refugee programs.
The World Bank has since noted the improvements the country has made in caring for refugees, including what it says are programs that put a focus on refugee children. On Aug. 29, however, Turkey’s foreign minister said his country cannot take on new refugee burdens.
Countries Hosting the Most Refugees
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The 2021 Best Countries rankings, formed in partnership with BAV Group, a unit of global marketing communications company VMLY&R, and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, are based on a study that surveyed more than 17,000 global citizens from four regions to assess perceptions of 78 countries on 76 different metrics.
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