Much of the recent increase in displaced persons, including refugees and asylum seekers, is because of the war in Syria, which has been going on since 2011. Refugees and asylum seekers have also fled from conflicts in Afghanistan, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Libya, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. 

The countries producing the highest numbers of refugees are located in developing regions. Many of these countries have been the most common countries of origin for refugees for at least 5 years. Afghanistan has been one of the major countries of origin for over 33 years.

Refugees from only ten countries make up 76 per cent of the 16.1 million refugees registered with the UNHCR (2015).

In 2015, 1.8 million people became newly displaced, with over 1 million coming from Syria alone. Burundi, South Sudan and the Ukraine also had significant numbers of newly displaced persons.

There were 2.45 million individual applications for asylum submitted in 2015, mostly by protection seekers from Syria; Albania, Serbia and Kosova; Afghanistan; Iraq and Eritrea. This figure does not include mass influxes or those recognised as refugees on a group basis, such as the close to 1 million Syrian refugees given temporary protection in Turkey. In 2015, a record high of 2 million asylum seekers submitted new individual applications to the UNHCR or directly to states.

Click on links below for profiles on key countries of origin:



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Last updated November 2016.