Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2019



The report presents data compiled by UNHCR on forced displacement in 2019 due to persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order. This year’s report includes analysis of displacement trends over the past decade.

Key findings include:

  • The number of forcibly displaced people reached a record high of 79.5 million at the end of 2019, including 45.7 million IDPs, 26.0 million refugees (20.4 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate and 5.6 million Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate), 4.2 million asylum-seekers, and 3.6 million Venezuelans displaced abroad. One percent of the world’s population is now forcibly displaced.
  •  11 million people were newly displaced (or newly registered) in 2019, comprising 8.6 million IDPs, 0.4 million refugees and 2.0 million asylum seekers.
  • Asylum-seekers submitted two million new individual applications in 2019, with the largest numbers of new individual applications reported in the United States, Peru, Germany, France and Spain.
  •  5.6 million displaced people returned to their areas or countries of origin during 2019, including 5.3 million IDPs and 317,200 refugees. The highest numbers of IDP returns were reported in DRC (2.1 million) and Ethiopia (1.3 million). The highest numbers of refugee returns were reported in South Sudan (99,800), Syria (95,000) and the Central African Republic (46,500).
  • Only 107,800 refugees were admitted for resettlement during the year with or without UNHCR assistance, the majority to Canada, the United States and Australia.
  • 55,000 refugees were reported as having been naturalized in 2019, the majority in Canada and the Netherlands.
  •  A small number of countries have produced the majority of forcibly displaced at the end of 2019. The largest forcibly displaced populations at the end of 2019 (including refugees, IDPs, asylum seekers, and Venezuelans displaced abroad) originated from: Syria (approximately 13 million people); Colombia (8.2 million); DRC (5.9 million); Afghanistan (5.5 million); Venezuela (4.5 million); South Sudan (3.9 million); Yemen (3.7 million); and Somalia (3.6 million).
  • 73 percent of refugees and Venezuelans displaced abroad lived in countries neighboring their countries of origin. Developing countries hosted 85 percent of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate and Venezuelans displaced abroad, while Least Developed Countries hosted 27 percent of the total. Countries hosting the largest numbers of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate and asylum-seekers were: Turkey (3.9 million), Colombia (1.8 million), Germany (almost 1.5 million), Pakistan (1.4 million), Uganda (1.4 million), the United States (1.2 million), and Sudan (1.1 million). The countries hosting the largest proportions of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate and displaced Venezuelans abroad relative to the national population were Aruba (156 per 1,000 host country inhabitants), Lebanon (134), Curacao (99), and Jordan (69).
  • 77 percent of refugees were in protracted refugee situations at the end of 2019 (i.e. 25,000 or more refugees from the same nationality have been in exile for five consecutive years or more in a given host country).
  • There were 4.2 million stateless persons recorded at end-2019, but the true global figure is estimated to be significantly higher.
  •  Approximately half of refugees were women or girls. In 16 of 20 UNHCR operations where demographic data was available at the end of 2019, just over half of all IDPs were women and girls.
  •  Based on a combination of different data sources and statistical models, 38-43 percent of forcibly displaced people are estimated to be children, although the proportion varies substantially across settings. 153,300 unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) were identified among the refugee population at the end of 2019 and UASC lodged around 25,000 new asylum applications—these figures are likely to be significantly underestimated due to incomplete data.
  •  Available data on IDPs indicates that the ratio of urban versus non-urban internally displaced populations was 2:1 at the end of 2019. Where UNHCR was involved in situations of internal displacement in 2019, two out of three IDPs were in urban or semi-urban areas.