Refugee statistics – overview

By Daniil Filipenco

Refugee statistics – overview

During the first few months of 2021, a massive number of individuals were forcibly displaced throughout the world with about 84 million people becoming victims of repression, conflict, violence, or human rights abuses. This figure was a 1.6 million increase from the previous year. However, the year 2022 added at least 6 million new refugees, including those from Ukraine and Yemen.

The data presented by the UN Refugee Agency prior to the conflict in Ukraine showed there were:

  • Over 26 million refugees around the globe
  • Over 50 million internally displaced persons
  • Nearly 4.5 million people seeking asylum

Fig.1. Refugee statistics in 2021

Source: UNHCR

Refugee statistics and facts

🔹 Europe

The data presented by the UN Refugee Agency prior to the conflict in Ukraine shows that:

  • With 3.7 million refugees, Turkey hosted the largest number of refugees, more than any other nation in the world.
  • Over 114,000 migrants attempted to seek asylum in Europe by water in 2021, with over 3,200 losing their lives or going missing.
  • About 250,000 people have been offered international protection by the EU.
  • Between October and December 2021, the number of first-time asylum seekers in the EU increased by 66% compared to the same period in 2020.
  • Most asylum seekers came from Syria (31,500 applications filed), Afghanistan (29,700 applications filed) and Iraq (10,100 applications filed).

Ukraine before and after the conflict

In 2020, the number of refugees from Ukraine, which was home to armed conflict with Russian-supported separatists in the country’s Eastern regions, dropped to 18,400, well below the statistical criterion of a long-running refugee crisis.

However, since the beginning of the full-scale war in February 2022 until now, the number of Ukrainian refugees seeking asylum in European nations has reached 7,968,510 with over four million fleeing the country during the first five weeks of the conflict.

Fig.2. Countries featured in the Refugee Response Plan

Source: UNHCR

Refugees in Austria

Before the conflict in Ukraine, Austria housed 146,000 refugees with the majority being Syrians (58,000) and Afghans (41,000).

Since February 24th, 2022, over 91,000 Ukrainians have officially registered for temporary protection in Austria.

Refugees in Poland

In 2020, Poland housed 12,780 refugees, 3,307 people in need of asylum, and 1,328 stateless persons.

Since February 24th, 2022 to date, the country has hosted over 1,563,000 Ukrainian refugees.

Refugees in Romania

Since February 24, 2022, over 1.8 million Ukrainian refugees crossed the border with Romania. Today the country houses over 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.

Refugees in Russia

Since the country’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia became host to over 2,800,000 Ukrainians, as reported by its authorities.

Refugees in Germany

Germany housed 1.24 million refugees and 233,000 asylum applicants as of the summer of 2021, thus becoming Europe’s largest refugee host nation that year.

Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, Germany has registered 1,021,000 Ukrainian refugees.

Refugees in Moldova

Since February 24th, 2022, about 400,000 people have fled Ukraine and arrived in Moldova.

While the majority have moved on to other neighboring countries and Western Europe, Moldova currently hosts nearly 102,000 Ukrainian refugees.

Fig.3. Refugees from Ukraine recorded by country

Source: UNHCR

The refugee statistics were no brighter in other parts of the world.

🔹 Central America and Venezuela

  • El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have faced a tremendous increase in violence by various criminal groups leading to around 890,000 people fleeing these nations in search of asylum.
  • Due to the political unrest, socio-economic turmoil, and continuous humanitarian crises (based on data from January 2022), over 6 million refugees and migrants have fled Venezuela.
  • Nearly 80% of Venezuelans (roughly 5 million) are housed in 17 nations across Latin America and the Caribbean, generating the region’s worst external displacement catastrophe in modern history.

🔹 Middle East


  • UNHCR continues to offer shelter and humanitarian aid to 276,000 Iraqi refugees in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. In 2022, over 38,000 Iraqis are expected to require resettlement.
  • Iraq is currently home to more than 250,000 refugees from neighboring nations, (61% urban, 39% camp) and 37,798 other nationality refugees, with the Kurdistan Region hosting almost 98% of Syrian refugees (KRI).


The conflict in this country has continued for around 11 years.

  • Over 5.7 million registered Syrians have fled their homes
  • Over 80% of all refugees live in neighboring nations
  • Turkey has become home to most Syrians (over 3.7 million)


As one of the poorest countries in the region that for years has been mired in unending conflict, the country continues to face long-term poverty and insecurity.

  • There are about 4 million internally displaced people, most of whom face hunger.
  • Natural catastrophes have intensified the war in Yemen, pushing many people to leave their homes on multiple occasions.

See also: Majority of Yemen’s population will face food insecurity. Here is why

🔹 Africa

  • Africa currently houses over 30 million refugees, accounting for almost 30% of all refugees globally. Around 85% live in developing nations, while only 15% have found shelter in developed countries.
  • In 2012, East Africa housed 1.82 million refugees, while today this figure has reached nearly 5 million, with 300,000 additional arrivals in 2021. Uganda houses 1.6 million, Sudan has over 1 million refugees, Ethiopia over 830,000 and Kenya over half a million refugees.
  • Approximately 2.1 million people left South Sudan due to violence and climate change outcomes, seeking refuge in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda.

Final word

The refugee problem continues to persist in the world and in Europe, particularly over the last couple of years. Firstly, millions of people fled Syria and now the conflict in Ukraine has forced entire families to seek asylum in Poland, Romania, Germany, and Russia. The countries hosting numerous refugees face multiple issues that are aggravating the situation, especially with helping people and dealing with high inflation and rising fuel prices. Meanwhile, Africa and the Middle East face a similar problem, with millions of people forced to leave their homes and find shelter in neighboring nations.