Thursday, June 20, 2019

World Refugees Day

June 20 is observed as the International Refugees Day. Here are some info from UNHCR:

The world now has a population of 70.8 million forcibly displaced people.

The global population of forcibly displaced people grew substantially from 43.3 million in 2009 to 70.8 million in 2018, reaching a record high. Most of this increase was between 2012 and 2015, driven mainly by the Syrian conflict. But conflicts in other areas also contributed to this rise, including Iraq, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, as well as the massive flow of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh at the end of 2017.
The refugee population under UNHCR’s mandate has nearly doubled since 2012. In 2018, the increase was driven particularly by internal displacement in Ethiopia and asylum-seekers fleeing Venezuela. The proportion of the world’s population who were displaced also continued to rise, as the world’s forcibly displaced population grew faster than the global population.

13.6 million forced to flee in 2018

Large numbers of people were on the move in 2018. During the year, 13.6 million people were newly displaced, including 2.8 million who sought protection abroad (as new asylum-seekers or newly registered refugees) and 10.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs), who were forced to flee but remained in their own countries. This means that on every day of 2018, an average of 37,000 people were newly displaced. Many returned to their countries or areas of origin to try to rebuild their lives, including 2.3 million IDPs and nearly 600,000 refugees.
Some 1.6 million Ethiopians made up the largest newly displaced population during the year, 98 per cent of them within their country. This increase more than doubled the existing internally displaced population in the country.
Syrians were the next largest newly displaced population, with 889,400 people during 2018. Of these, 632,700 were newly displaced/registered outside the country, while the remainder were internally displaced. Nigeria also had a high number of newly displaced people with 661,800, of which an estimated 581,800 were displaced within the country’s borders.

Most displaced people remained close to home

The vast majority of newly displaced people remained close to home. For example, most Syrians fled to Turkey, where there were half a million new refugee registrations and asylum applications. Most of those forced to flee South Sudan went to Sudan or Uganda, and those displaced from DRC also headed to Uganda.
At the end of 2018, Syrians still made up the largest forcibly displaced population, with 13.0 million people living in displacement, including 6.7 million refugees, 6.2 million internally displaced people (IDPs) and 140,000 asylum-seekers. Colombians were the second largest group, with 8.0 million forcibly displaced, most of them (98 per cent) inside their country at the end of 2018. A total of 5.4 million Congolese from DRC were also forcibly displaced, of whom 4,517,000 were IDPs and 854,000 were refugees or asylum-seekers. Other large displaced populations of IDPs, refugees or asylum-seekers at the end of 2018 were from Afghanistan (5.1 million), South Sudan (4.2 million), Somalia (3.7 million), Ethiopia (2.8 million), Sudan (2.7 million), Nigeria (2.5 million), Iraq (2.4 million) and Yemen (2.2 million).
The situation in Cameroon was complex as it was both a source country and host country of refugees and asylum-seekers, along with multiple internal displacements in 2018. In total, there were 45,100 Cameroonian refugees globally at the end of 2018. Nigeria hosted 100 at the beginning of 2018 compared to 32,800 by the end of the year. This is in addition to 668,500 IDPs. At the same time, Cameroon hosted 380,300 refugees, mainly from the Central African Republic (CAR) and Nigeria.

Less than 3% of refugees returned to their country of origin

Returns continued to account for a small proportion of the displaced population and did not offset new displacements. Some 593,800 refugees returned to their countries of origin in 2018 compared with 667,400 in 2017, less than 3 per cent of the refugee population. In addition, 2.3 million IDPs returned in 2018, compared with 4.2 million in 2017. Resettlement provided a solution for close to 92,400 refugees.

As the displaced population continues to grow, steps are taken to further improve data

In 2018, the Expert Group on Refugee and IDP Statistics (EGRIS) presented the results of its work at the 49th session of the UN Statistical Commission. EGRIS is an expert group of about 70 members from country, regional and international level, tasked with addressing challenges associated with working with statistics on refugees, asylum-seekers and IDPs.
The Commission:
  • endorsed the International Recommendations on Refugee Statistics;
  • endorsed the Technical Report on Statistics of IDPs and supported the proposal to upgrade this work to develop formal recommendations; and
  • reaffirmed the mandate to develop a compiler’s manual on refugee and IDP statistics to provide hands-on guidance for the recommendations.

The number of refugees under UNHCR’s care is almost double that of 2012, with two thirds coming from just 5 countries

The total global refugee population is now at the highest level ever recorded – 25.9 million at the end of 2018, including 5.5 million Palestinian refugees under UNRWA’s mandate.
The refugee population under UNHCR’s mandate (the focus of this report) is 20.4 million and has nearly doubled since 2012 when it stood at 10.5 million. Over the course of 2018, this population increased by about 417,100 or 2 per cent – the seventh consecutive year of increase but the smallest rise since 2013.
Notable changes included:
  • 7 per cent increase in West Africa.
  • The proportion of all refugees under UNHCR’s mandate hosted in Turkey alone increased to 18 per cent.

Origins of refugees

As in 2017, over two thirds of the world’s refugees come from just five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. As has been the case since 2014, the main country of origin for refugees in 2018 was Syria, with 6.7 million at the end of the year, an increase over the 6.3 million from a year earlier. These refugees were hosted by 127 countries on six continents, however the vast majority (85 per cent) remained in countries in the region. Turkey continued to host the largest population of Syrian refugees, 3.6 million by the end of the year. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa with significant numbers of Syrian refugees included Lebanon (944,200), Jordan (676,300) and Iraq (252,500). Outside the region, countries with large Syrian refugee populations included Germany (532,100), Sweden (109,300) and Sudan (93,500).
Refugees from Afghanistan were the second largest group by country of origin, in what has remained a significant population since the 1980s. At the end of 2018, there were 2.7 million Afghan refugees, mainly in Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran, who between them hosted 88 per cent.
South Sudan remained the third most common country of origin and neighbouring countries hosted almost all refugees originating from there. Of 2.3 million South Sudanese refugees most were in Sudan (852,100), followed by Uganda (788,800) Ethiopia (422,100), Kenya (115,200) and DRC (95,700).
The refugee population from Myanmar, the fourth largest population group by country of origin, remained stable at 1.1 million. Most refugees from Myanmar were hosted by Bangladesh (906,600). Other countries with sizable populations of refugees from Myanmar were Malaysia (114,200), Thailand (97,600) and India (18,800).
The number of Somali refugees worldwide continued to decline slowly, and 80 per cent remained in countries close to Somalia. At the end of 2018, there were 949,700 Somali refugees. Ethiopia was the largest host of Somali refugees with 257,200 at the end of 2018. This was followed by Kenya (252,500) and Yemen (249,000).
The number of refugees originating from Sudan reached 724,800 by the end of 2018, up from 694,600 the previous year, again mostly in neighbouring countries. Chad continued to host the largest Sudanese refugee population with 336,700, while 269,900 Sudanese refugees were living in South Sudan.
At the year’s end, DRC was the seventh largest country of origin of refugees, with 720,300 refugees. As in 2017, CAR remained the country of origin of the eighth largest refugee population. Violence continued to force people to flee, with refugee numbers increasing from 545,500 to 590,900 during 2018. Eritrea remained the ninth largest country of origin with 507,300 refugees at the end of 2018, a slight increase from end-2017 when this population stood at 486,200. Most were in neighbouring countries, such as Ethiopia and Sudan. The number of refugees from Burundi, the tenth largest refugee-producing country, decreased during 2018 from 439,300 at the start of the year to 387,900 at the end. The decrease was mainly due to returns (45,500) and as a result of verification exercises that often reflect spontaneous departures. Nearly all of these refugees (98 per cent) were located in countries in the region, such as Tanzania, Rwanda and DRC.

Host Countries

As has been the case since 2014, Turkey was the country hosting the largest refugee population, with 3.7 million at the end of 2018, up from 3.5 million in December 2017. More than 98 per cent of the refugees in Turkey were from Syria with 3.6 million making up more than 98 per cent of the entire refugee population.
At the end of 2018, Pakistan hosted the second largest refugee population with 1.4 million refugees, almost exclusively from Afghanistan. Uganda continued to host a large refugee population, numbering 1.2 million at the end of 2018. Uganda was host to refugee populations from several countries, the largest being from South Sudan (with 788,800 at the end of 2018). The refugee population in Sudan increased by about 19 per cent over the course of 2018 to just over 1 million, with Sudan becoming the country with the fourth largest refugee population.
During 2018, the refugee population in Germany continued to increase, numbering 1,063,800 at the end of the year. More than half were from Syria (532,100), while other countries of origin included Iraq (136,500) and Afghanistan (126,000).
The registered refugee population in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the sixth largest refugee-hosting country, remained unchanged at 979,400 at the end of 2018, mostly from Afghanistan. The refugee population in Lebanon declined slightly, there were nearly 1 million refugees at the end of 2018 (949,700), compared with 998,900 at the end of 2017, mostly from Syria.
Bangladesh continued to host a large population of 906,600 refugees at the end of 2018, almost entirely from Myanmar. The refugee population in Ethiopia, the ninth largest refugee host country, increased during 2018, reaching 903,200, with over half from South Sudan (422,100).
Jordan experienced a slight increase in its refugee population, providing protection to 715,300 people, mostly from Syria, by the end of 2018, up from 691,000 in 2017 and making it the tenth largest refugee-hosting country in the world.
Other countries hosting significant refugee populations at the end of 2018 included DRC (529,100), Chad (451,200), Kenya (421,200), Cameroon (380,300) and France (368,400).

New refugees

During 2018, 1.1 million people were reported as new refugees, down from the 2.7 million reported in 2017. Recognition on a group or prima facie basis was given to 599,300 refugees, and 461,200 were granted some form of temporary protection. Syrians were the largest group of new refugees registered on a group or prima facie basis, accounting for more than half of new registrations mostly in Turkey, although many will have already been present in Turkey for a while before registering.
The conflict in South Sudan continued to displace many, with 179,200 new refugees registered in 2018. However, this was a lower rate of displacement than was seen in the previous year when over 1 million new refugees were recorded. Refugees from DRC constituted the third largest group of new refugees with 123,400 people forcibly displaced across its borders in 2018. Most fled to Uganda (119,900), while smaller numbers of new refugees were registered in Rwanda (2,600) and South Sudan (800).
Other countries of origin of new refugees included CAR (53,100, mainly to Chad and Cameroon), Nigeria (41,000, mainly to Cameroon) and Cameroon (32,600, all to Nigeria).
Turkey was the country of asylum that registered the largest number of new refugees in 2018 with 397,600 Syrians registered under the Government’s Temporary Protection Regulation.
This was followed by Sudan which reported new refugees mainly from South Sudan (99,400) and Syria (81,700). Uganda also registered 160,600 new refugees in 2018, mainly from DRC (119,900). In addition, Cameroon reported 52,800 new refugees, from Nigeria (31,800) and CAR (20,900); Ethiopia reported 42,100 new refugees, mainly from South Sudan (25,400) and Eritrea (14,600); and Nigeria reported 32,600 new arrivals, all from Cameroon.

Measuring the impact on a host country

Comparing the size of a refugee population with that of a host country can help measure the impact of hosting that population. Lebanon, while hosting the seventh largest refugee population, had the highest refugee population relative to national population with 156 refugees per 1,000 national population. Similarly, Jordan hosted the tenth largest refugee population but the second largest relative to national population with 72 refugees per 1,000. These figures relate only to the refugee population under UNHCR’s mandate, and Lebanon and Jordan respectively hosted an additional half a million and 2.2 million Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate.
Turkey hosted the third largest refugee population relative to its national population with 45 refugees per 1,000. Half of the ten countries with the highest refugee population relative to national population were in sub-Saharan Africa. In high-income countries, there are, on average, just 2.7 refugees per 1,000 national population, but this figure is more than doubled in middle- and low-income countries, with 5.8 refugees per 1,000.
UNHCR defines a protracted refugee situation as one in which 25,000 or more refugees from the same nationality have been in exile for five consecutive years or more in a given host country. The definition has limitations, because the refugee situation is constantly changing in each situation with new arrivals and returns. If a protracted refugee situation has been going on for 20 years it doesn’t mean that it has been stable throughout that time, or that all the refugees have been there for that long.

78 per cent of all refugees are in protracted refugee situations

15.9 million refugees were in protracted situations at the end of 2018. This represented 78 per cent of all refugees, compared with 66 per cent the previous year. 10.1 million refugees were in protracted situations of less than 20 years, more than half represented by the displacement situation of Syrians in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. 5.8 million were in a situation lasting 20 years or more, dominated especially by the 2.4 million Afghan refugees in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan where the displacement situation has lasted for 40 years.

Nine new protracted refugee situations

In 2018, nine situations were newly classed as protracted, as they reached the five year mark – South Sudanese refugees in Kenya, Sudan and Uganda; Nigerians in Cameroon and Niger; refugees from DRC and Somalia in South Africa; Pakistani refugees in Afghanistan; and Ukrainian refugees in Russian Federation.

Lasting solutions so displaced people can rebuild their lives

Finding durable solutions to enable millions of displaced people around the world to rebuild their lives in dignity and safety is a core part of UNHCR’s work. The Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework is part of the Global Compact on Refugees, an agreement for shared responsibility between UNHCR, governments and other organizations. In recent decades, it has become less straightforward to rely on the traditional solutions – voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement in third countries. To address this need, the new Framework includes additional measures such as expanding access to resettlement, other complementary pathways, and proactively fostering good conditions for voluntary repatriation.

Returning home under safe conditions – the lasting solution of choice

During 2018, the number of refugees who returned to their countries of origin stood at 593,800, a decline from 2017. Voluntary repatriation remains the preferred lasting solution for the largest number of refugees and requires appropriate measures to ensure that this choice is made freely, without outside pressure. The choice to return must be based on accurate information about the conditions to be expected on arrival in the country of origin.
Over the years, UNHCR has worked with States to enable millions of refugees to return home, through:
  • voluntary repatriation programmes,
  • small-scale and individual repatriations, and
  • ensuring that returns were sustainable.
In 2018, UNHCR observed a number of self-organized returns, sometimes under pressure, to areas where circumstances were partially improving but where peace and security were not fully established. For returns to be sustainable, it is critical they are not rushed and that the conditions for sustainable reintegration are met. However, all individuals have the right to make a personal decision to return voluntarily to their country of origin. When this happens, UNHCR monitors the progress of returns while also advocating for improved conditions.
Data show refugee returns to 37 countries of origin from 62 former countries of asylum during 2018. Data do not show whether these returns were safe, organized and sustainable.

The largest number of returning displaced people headed for Syria

UNHCR has not yet prompted or facilitated returns to Syria because safe, dignified large-scale repatriation cannot be guaranteed. There are significant risks for refugees returning too early and a premature, large-scale return could even further destabilize the region. Despite this, the largest number of returning refugees were headed for Syria, with most of the 210,900 refugees returning from Turkey and smaller numbers from Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. A Perception and Intentions Survey conducted among Syrian refugees in 2018 showed that 76 per cent of Syrian refugees hoped to return to Syria one day.
The second largest number of refugee returns in 2018 was reported by South Sudan, with 136,200, mostly returning from Uganda (83,600), followed by Ethiopia (40,200). As in the case of Syria, UNHCR did not facilitate or promote refugee returns to South Sudan in 2018. However, UNHCR did seek to monitor and assist the situations of returned refugees and IDPs within the country.

Resettlement – a life-saving tool

Resettlement in a new country that is neither the country of origin, nor the country of asylum, remains a life-saving tool to ensure the protection of those refugees most at risk. As one of the key objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees, resettlement and complementary pathways are also mechanisms for governments and communities across the world to:
  • share responsibility for responding to increasingly frequent forced displacement crises, and
  • help reduce the impact of large refugee situations on host countries.
UNHCR estimated that 1.4 million refugees were in need of resettlement. However, only 81,300 places for new submissions were provided in 2018. The gap between needs and actual resettlement places continued to grow.
Of the 81,300 submissions made in 2018, 68 per cent were for survivors of violence and torture, those with legal and physical protection needs, and particularly vulnerable women and girls. Just over half of all resettlement submissions concerned children.
Based on official government statistics provided to UNHCR, 92,400 refugees were resettled to 25 countries during 2018 including: Canada (28,100), The United States of America (22,900), Australia (12,700), United Kingdom (5,800) and France (5,600).

Local integration – a positive outcome that is hard to track

One durable solution is the local integration of refugees, a complex, gradual process in which refugees move towards permanent residence rights and, in many cases, citizenship in the country of asylum. Legal, economic, social, and cultural aspects of local integration are also part of the process.
Naturalization – the legal act or process by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire citizenship or nationality of that country – is used as a measure of local integration. However, it is difficult to distinguish between the naturalization of refugees and non-refugees, so the data do not give an accurate picture of the extent to which refugees are naturalized.
During 2018, a total of 62,600 refugee naturalizations were reported – lower than the 73,400 reported in 2017 – with 27 countries reporting at least one. Turkey reported the most naturalizations with 29,000 in 2018, all originating from Syria. Canada reported the second largest number, with 18,300 from 162 countries. Other countries reporting a significant number of naturalizations were The Netherlands (7,900), Guinea-Bissau (3,500) and France (3,300).

Forced to flee within the same country

As a consequence of armed conflict, generalized violence and human rights violations, by the end of 2018 some 41.3 million people were displaced within their own countries. This is an increase of 1.3 million compared with 2017 and the largest ever reported by IDMC.
Colombia reported the highest number of internally displaced people with 7.8 million at the end of 2018 according to Government statistics, up 118,200 on the previous year.

Violence, conflict and political uncertainty drive displacement

Syria remained the country with the second highest level of internal displacement. 256,700 new displacements brought the total displaced population to 2 million, more than half of whom were in Idlib Governorate.  As the Syria crisis entered its eighth year, continued hostilities led to large-scale displacement with people fleeing sporadic artillery shelling and infighting.
The IDP population in DRC also continued to increase, rising from 4 million at the end of 2017 to 5 million at the end of 2018. Active conflicts and political uncertainties continued to drive significant displacement. Nevertheless, improved security across some territories in Tanganyika facilitated some spontaneous returns.

IDPs reluctant to return because of issues such as fear of reprisals, food insecurity and lack of services

Somalia experienced a 25 per cent increase in internal displacement with 602,700 new displacements during 2018. That brought the total displaced population to 2.6 million, the world’s fourth largest IDP population. This large scale displacement is spurred on by armed conflict and food insecurity. Many IDPs were reluctant to return due to fear of reprisal and limited availability of social services and livelihood opportunities.
In Ethiopia there was a sharp increase in the internally displaced population, which more than doubled from 1.1 million at the beginning of 2018 to 2.6 million at the end. The internally displaced population also grew in Nigeria, where an increase of 27 per cent brought the total IDP population to million. 176,200 returns failed to balance out 581,700 new displacements.

People return to find a home still ravaged by conflict

In Yemen, high levels of movement are masked by the relatively small increase in the internally displaced population, which reached 1 million at the end of 2018. There were 264,300 new displacements and 133,600 returns. However, those returning to their localities of origin often find the area is still affected by conflict and they continue to have significant humanitarian needs.
In Afghanistan the internally displaced population stood at 2.1 million, up from 1.8 million at the end of 2017. There were new displacements and returns throughout the year, often occurring simultaneously in the same province. With two thirds of the population living in areas directly affected by conflict, population movement has become a permanent feature.
In South Sudan the numbers of internally displaced remained high, around 1.9 million, although slightly decreased from the previous year. South Sudan’s recently revitalized peace process offers new opportunities amid de-escalating tensions.

Many IDPs have lived in displacement for more than a decade

At the end of 2018, the internally displaced population in Sudan stood at 1.9 million, a decrease from the 2.0 million at the start of the year. The vast majority of IDPs were in Darfur (88 per cent), where some have been living in long-term displacement for over a decade.
The number of IDPs in Iraq declined over the course of 2018 from 2.6 million to 1.8 million, due to almost 1 million returns. Ninewa Province, which includes the city of Mosul, maintained the largest IDP population at 576,000, despite 437,000 returns during the year. The safe return of displaced people remained an overarching priority.
1.5 million people were registered as internally displaced with the Ukrainian authorities and Cameroon experienced a trebling of its internally displaced population from 221,700 at the start of 2018 to 668,500 at the end. Other countries that reported significant IDP populations included CAR (641,000), Azerbaijan (620,400), Myanmar (370,300) and Georgia (282,400).

5.4 million people became IDPs in 2018

According to data reported by UNHCR offices, over the course of 2018, some 5.4 million people became IDPs, having been forced to move within their countries due to conflict and violence. This is a significant reduction compared with 2017 (8.5 million) but is similar to 2016 (4.9 million).
The substantial increase of over 1.5 million internally displaced people in Ethiopia was mainly the result of inter-communal violence in various pockets of the country over territory, pasture and water rights. Other countries with high levels of new internal displacement included Somalia (602,700), Nigeria (581,700) and Cameroon (514,500).
As in previous years, Iraq continued to have the highest number of returns in 2018 with close to 1 million people (945,000) returning to their localities of origin. This was followed by the Philippines (445,700), CAR (306,200) and Nigeria (176,200).

IDPs are people who have been forced to flee their home but stay within their own country and remain under the protection of their government. They often move to areas where it is difficult for UNHCR to deliver humanitarian assistance and as a result, these people are among the most vulnerable in the world.

1 in 5 asylum-seekers come from Venezuela

Some 2.1 million individual applications for asylum or refugee status were submitted to States or UNHCR in 158 countries or territories. This represents a small increase from 2017 when there were 1.9 million.
In the countries where UNHCR managed refugee status determination 227,800 applications were registered in 2018, of which 12,200 were on appeal or repeat.

New individual asylum applications – where were they lodged?

Turkey continued to receive individual asylum claims from nationalities other than Syrians, who receive protection under the Government’s Temporary Protection Regulation. Turkey thus became the fifth largest recipient of new asylum claims with 83,800 submitted in 2018 from Afghanistan, Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Afghan asylum-seekers continued to submit the most claims in 2018 with 53,000, down slightly from 2017. Similarly, asylum claims from Iraqis remained the second most common and declined from 44,500 in 2017 to 20,000 in 2018. There were also 6,400 claims from Iranians.

More asylum-seekers were rejected than were granted protection

Provisional figures indicate that States and UNHCR made 1,134,200 decisions on individual asylum applications – new, on appeal, or repeat – during 2018. These figures do not include cases closed for administrative reasons with no decision issued to applicants, of which 514,900 were reported in 2018.
Available data indicate that 500,100 asylum-seekers were granted protection in 2018, with 351,100 recognized as refugees and 149,000 granted a complementary form of protection. This was the lowest figure since 2013. About 634,100 claims were rejected on substantive grounds, a number that includes negative decisions at the first instance and on appeal.
At the global level (UNHCR and State asylum procedures combined), the Total Protection Rate (TPR) was 44 per cent – i.e. the percentage of substantive decisions that resulted in any form of international protection. This rate is lower than the previous year when it stood at 49 per cent and substantially lower than the 60 per cent reported in 2016.
Looking at the global figures for the countries of origin with over 10,000 substantive decisions, nationals of Burkina Faso had the highest TPR (86 per cent), followed by nationals of DRC (83 per cent), Eritrea (81 per cent), Syria (81 per cent) and Somalia (73 per cent). Just over half of Afghans applications received protection (54 per cent). Venezuelans received protection in under half of decisions (40 per cent) as did Iraqis (46 per cent).
The TPR varies greatly depending on the countries of asylum. For example, Switzerland had a TPR of 75 per cent, compared with Australia and Sweden where only about a quarter of asylum decisions granted protection. Germany made the most substantive decisions (245,700) and had a TPR of 43 per cent.

Millions of people waiting for decisions

There were 3,503,300 asylum-seekers waiting for decisions on pending claims at the end of 2018, 13 per cent more than the previous year. The largest asylum-seeker population at the end of 2018 continued to be in the United States of America (719,000). In Germany the asylum-seeker population continued to reduce, reaching 369,300, a decline of 14 per cent.
Turkey hosted the third largest asylum-seeker population (311,700) not including Syrians who are protected under the country’s Temporary Protection Regulation and do not undergo individual refugee status determination.
Peru has seen a more than six-fold increase of its asylum-seeker population to 230,900 due to the large number of asylum claims from Venezuelans received during the year.
Venezuelans were the nationality with the largest number of pending asylum claims in 2018 with 464,200 cases compared with 148,000 in 2017. Asylum-seekers from Afghanistan constituted the second largest nationality of origin with 310,100 pending claims, followed by Iraqi asylum-seekers (256,700) and asylum-seekers from Syria (139,600) at the end of 2018 Despite improved statistical reporting on pending asylum applications, the actual number of undecided asylum cases is underestimated, as some countries do not report this information.

Finding out how many stateless people there are, and where they live, is the first step towards ending statelessness

There is increased awareness of statelessness globally. States are making an effort, often supported by UNHCR, to identify stateless individuals in their countries. Despite this progress, fewer than half of countries have official statistics on stateless people.
Data on some 3.9 million stateless persons are captured in the Global Trends report, but the true global figure is estimated to be significantly higher. This year UNHCR was able to report on people under UNHCR’s statelessness mandate for 78 countries, but there are other countries where there are reports of stateless populations but no reliable figures.

Prevent and reduce statelessness by recognizing the problem

Identifying stateless people is the first step towards addressing the difficulties they face as well as enabling governments, UNHCR and others to prevent and reduce statelessness. Recognition of statelessness and gathering data about the problem are key elements in UNHCR’s Global Action Plan to end Statelessness, with its accompanying #IBelong campaign. It also calls for the strengthening of civil registration and vital statistics systems and UNHCR, therefore, works with States to undertake targeted surveys and studies. During 2018, a number of new studies were completed, including for Albania, Switzerland and the East African community.
Statistics and information on the situation of stateless populations can also be gathered through population censuses. For this reason, UNHCR works with statisticians and relevant authorities at national level to ensure the inclusion of questions that lead to improved data on stateless populations in the 2020 round of population and housing censuses.

Slow progress

In 2018, progress continued to be made to reduce the number of stateless people through the acquisition or confirmation of nationality. A reported 56,400 stateless people in 24 countries acquired nationality during the year, with significant progress occurring in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and Sweden, among other places. In Sweden, for example, an estimated 7,200 people had their nationality confirmed in 2018, as did an estimated 6,400 in the Russian Federation.

Stateless people are not considered nationals under the law of any state. They may not be able to go to school, see a doctor, get a job, open a bank account, buy a house or even get married. They are also generally not counted or registered in the ways the rest of the population is, meaning their needs are not planned for and their existence not acknowledged.


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