UN: Pakistan and Iran host 90% of Afghan refugees

The global Afghan refugee population has increased from 5.7 million to 6.1 million, primarily due to new population estimates provided by the Pakistan government, as reported by the United Nations on Wednesday.

According to a new report by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), Iran (3.4 million) and Pakistan (2.1 million) jointly hosted 90 percent of all Afghan refugees.

The UNHCR’s Mid-Year Trends Report, which assesses forced displacement during the first half of 2023, revealed that by the end of June, there were an estimated 35.8 million refugees worldwide, with many having experienced displacement for extended periods. This figure has doubled within seven years. It includes 5.5 million individuals in refugee-like situations and 5.3 million others in need of international protection.

Furthermore, the number of people displaced due to war, persecution, violence, and human rights violations globally has risen from 108.4 million at the end of the previous year to 110 million by the end of June 2023, according to the UNHCR. This number is estimated to have exceeded 114 million by the end of September, reaching a record high.

The main drivers of displacement in the first half of 2023 were conflicts in Ukraine, Sudan, Myanmar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, a prolonged humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and a combination of drought, floods, and insecurity in Somalia, as stated by the UNHCR.

UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi emphasized the proliferation of conflicts and their impact on innocent lives, pointing to the international community’s inability to prevent or resolve these conflicts. He called for improved cooperation to end violence and enable displaced individuals to return home.

According to the UNHCR report, nearly 1.2 million people were granted international protection during the first half of the year, including those who received asylum on an individual or group basis and temporary protection.

Globally, 87 percent of all refugees came from just ten countries, with over half of all refugees being of Afghan, Syrian, or Ukrainian origin.

It was noted that low-income countries continue to host a disproportionately large share of the world’s displaced people, both in terms of their population size and available resources. While these countries represented 9 percent of the global population and only 0.4 percent of the global gross domestic product, they hosted 16 percent of all refugees.

The top countries hosting refugees include Iran and Turkey with 3.4 million each, Germany and Colombia with 2.5 million each, and Pakistan with 2.1 million.

As of June 2023, approximately 23.8 million refugees and other individuals in need of international protection found themselves in protracted situations, with 59 protracted situations across 37 different host countries.

In the first six months of 2023, the number of individual asylum applications registered by states or UNHCR was 1.7 million, including new asylum applications and repeat or appeal applications. Compared to the same period in the previous year, new asylum applications increased by over 50 percent, with more than 10 percent increases recorded in nearly 90 countries, according to the UNHCR.

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