From the Field

Forced to flee: Top countries refugees are coming from

Today, more people than ever before — over 100 million — have been forced to flee their homes. That figure includes over 27 million who have fled their countries because of conflict, violence, persecution, or human rights violations and more than 53 million who are displaced in their own countries because of economic hardship, weather shocks, or deadly clashes, including the war in Ukraine.

Violence and protracted conflict in countries including Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Myanmar, and Nigeria have fueled the increase of people forcibly displaced. The war in Ukraine has also displaced 8 million within the country this year, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Nearly 6 million Ukrainian refugees have been recorded across Europe.

More than 40% of refugees are children, among whom are about 1.5 million born as refugees between 2018 and 2021. Many children are likely to remain in exile, some potentially for the rest of their lives.

A record 100 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes.

Here are the top countries of origin that account for the most refugees in the world today. More than two-thirds of today’s refugees have been forced to flee from these five countries.

1. Syria — 6.8 million refugees and asylum-seekers

Most Syrians who are refugees because of the Syrian civil war remain in the Middle East. Turkey hosts about 3.8 million, the largest number of refugees hosted by any country in the world. Syrian refugees are also in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. Returnees face a daunting situation, including a lack of infrastructure and services and danger from explosive devices. About 6.9 million are displaced within Syria, and nearly 14.6 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations.

Since the crisis began, World Vision has helped more than 7.5 million children in the region.

2. Venezuela — 4.6 million refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants

Years of economic and political instability in Venezuela have caused millions of Venezuelans to leave the country since 2014. They’ve migrated to seek food, work, and a better life, most of them to nearby countries. Many Venezuelans on the move lack legal status and need international protection and aid, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.

World Vision supports Venezuelan migrants through food and nutritional assistance, access to clean water, and critical health and educational services in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. In Venezuela, we’re working through partner organizations to empower families to make life better for their children. Since January 2019, we have reached over 1.2 million people, including more than 544,300 children, with aid.

3. Afghanistan — 2.7 million refugees and asylum seekers

About 2.7 million people from Afghanistan are refugees, representing one of the largest long-term refugee situations in the world — and that number increases when you add asylum-seekers applying for refugee status. Another 3.5 million Afghans are displaced within the country due to conflict, drought, and other natural disasters.

Pakistan hosts about 1.5 million Afghans, including some second- or third-generation Afghan refugees who have never lived in their home country. Some have been forced to return home from neighboring countries, but increased violence and instability in Afghanistan since the 2021 transition of power have led to a new surge of asylum-seekers.

World Vision is working in Badghis, Faryab, Herat, and Ghor provinces, aiming to help over 1 million people through proven programs in areas such as food and nutrition assistance, healthcare, child protection, and access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene. We’re currently serving children and families in over 2,000 villages throughout Afghanistan.

4. South Sudan — 2.4 million refugees and asylum-seekers

The protracted conflict in South Sudan has caused one of the largest refugee crises in Africa. About 2 million people are displaced within the country, and an additional 2.4 million are refugees who fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda.

We’ve provided life-saving food supplies and cash assistance to about 1.7 million people to prevent the spread of hunger in famine-like conditions in four South Sudanese states: Warrap, Upper Nile, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Central Equatoria.

5. Myanmar – 1.2 million refugees and asylum-seekers

For many years, but especially since 2017, the Rohingya people have fled violence, persecution, and human rights violations in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Today, around 918,000 stateless Rohingya refugees live in the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee camp, Kutupalong. About half are children.

World Vision works in all 34 Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, serving nearly 500,000 people with food, clean water, sanitation facilities, shelter, and other humanitarian aid.

How you can help refugees:

  • Pray  for mothers, fathers, and children who struggle to survive as refugees. 
  • Give  to World Vision’s Refugee Children’s Crisis Fund to help provide for their needs. 

Chris Huber and Sevil Omer of World Vision’s U.S. staff contributed to this article.

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