By the end of 2017 there were over 68.5 million displaced persons, the highest number since the aftermath of World War II.  And the number has increased by more than 50 per cent since 2011. The predominant causes of displacement are persecution, conflict, human rights violations, generalised violence and, more recently, climate change.

Of the 68.5 million displaced persons, about a third (25.3 million) are refugees (those who have had their refugee status positively assessed) and one twentieth (3.1 million) are asylum seekers whose claims for asylum have not yet been processed. The remaining 40 million, the largest component, are internally displaced persons, people who have been displaced but remain within their own country. The majority (19.9 million) of the 25.3 million refugees are under the UNHCR’s mandate with 5.4 million being Palestinian refugees under the mandate of the UNRWA.  

Breakdown of displaced persons worldwide

In 2017, children made up approximately 52 per cent of the refugee population, including 173,800 unaccompanied or separated children. 50 per cent of refugees were female. The ‘working age’ group, refugees between 18 and 59 years old, is 45 per cent while those 60 years and over made up just 3 per cent, slightly lower than in previous years.

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Last updated 10 July 2018.