The recent withdrawal of US troops in Afghanistan has aroused interest and discussion. On TV, in social networks and in newspapers all over the world, photos of the many people fleeing from Kabul and other cities in Afghanistan have been shown. In order to better understand what are the figures of the refugees in the world and from which nations they come, I decided to analyse the data of the world bank. Recently, the world bank updated its data to include 2020 figures on the number of refugees by nationality of origin. At the same time, in today’s article, we will see which are the first nations in the world that have hosted refugees from Afghanistan. Refugee Population by Country or Territory of Origin.
Countries with the most refugees in the world – 1965/2020
Let us first start with the definition, before looking at the data. Refugees are persons recognised as such by the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol, the 1969 Organisation of African Unity Convention governing the specific aspects of refugee problems in Africa, persons recognised as refugees under the UNHCR Statute, persons granted humanitarian refugee status and persons given temporary protection.
Despite the Coronavirus, the number of refugee populations in 2020 has not decreased, quite the contrary. The country of origin with the highest number of refugees in the world in 2020 remains Syria. With 6.7 million refugees, Syria remains the world’s largest refugee nation. In second place, Afghanistan will be the second largest country of origin in 2020. A year ago, Afghanistan had a total of 2.6 million refugees. Among the countries with more than 1 million refugees we also find South Sudan with 2,189,141 and Myanmar with 1,103,299. Next in the world’s top 15 nations are several African and Asian countries, but also Colombia, which has a figure of 189,889 refugees.
If we look at the 1965 figures, the situation was quite different. The number one refugee nation in the world was China with a figure of 1,330,000 refugees worldwide. In second place was Angola with 220,000 people and Rwanda, which in 1965 had a figure of 155,900 and in 2020 is in fourteenth position with 245,806 refugees. At the top of the list in 1965 we see countries such as Greece, which 56 years ago had almost 18,000 refugee persons.
In recent weeks, thousands of Afghan citizens have tended to flee Afghanistan. But how many Afghan refugees have there been in the world from 1979 to 2020? In the graph below you can see the trend. In 2020 there were 2.5 million Afghan refugees. A figure that put Afghanistan in second place in the world after Syria. Over the last 15 years the trend has been fairly stable but high. In 2001, there were 3,809,763 refugees from Afghanistan.
However, the highest figure in the last 40 years was in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1990, the number of refugees from Afghanistan worldwide was over 6 million: 6,306,301.
Afghan refugee data in 2021
As Will points out in this interesting article, it is difficult to make a precise estimate of the number of people evacuated from Afghanistan. However, it is estimated that over 95,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan in the United States in recent days (95,700). The second largest country is Pakistan with 22,000 people.
Sources and useful links
The main data source for this article and video was the world bank. Here you can find the data from 1965 to 2020: https://datacatalog.worldbank.org/refugee-population-country-or-territory-origin.
he 2021 figure was taken from Will's elaboration of data from the Financial Times.
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To see the video: Refugee Population by Country or Territory of Origin: https://youtu.be/nts4safMrX8
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