21:02 18.06.2021

UNHCR Global Trends reveals that the number of people forcibly displaced in the world has risen to a record 82.4 million

6 min read
UNHCR Global Trends reveals that the number of people forcibly displaced in the world has risen to a record 82.4 million

June 18, 2021. Kyiv, Ukraine. Today, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has published its annual UNHCR Global Trends report on forced displacement in the world and is organising over 30 events around Ukraine to highlight the courage, resilience and contributions refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons bring to their new communities, on the occasion of World Refugee Day 2021.

Despite movement restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the number of people displaced due to conflicts, persecution and human rights violations rose to 82.4 million people in 2020, according to UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report released today in Geneva. This is a further four per cent increase on top of the record-high 79.5 million displaced at the end of 2019. Girls and boys under the age of 18 account for 42 per cent of all forcibly displaced people.

The report shows that by the end of 2020, there were 20.7 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, 5.7 million Palestine refugees and 3.9 million Venezuelans displaced abroad. Another 48 million people were internally displaced (IDPs) within their own countries. A further 4.1 million were asylum-seekers.

Ukraine is home to over 700,000 of the persons internally displaced in the world and to around 5,000 of the refugees and asylum seekers.

The report also finds that the vast majority of refugees – 73% - are hosted in countries neighbouring to their own, and that 76% of the world’s refugees are living in a protracted refugee situation [one in which 25,000 refugees of the same nationality have been in exile for at least 5 years].

"The number of forcibly displaced persons in the world today is overwhelming – it’s around twice the population of Ukraine. And behind every digit is an individual girl or boy, woman or man who has been forced to leave their home and community behind, gather whatever belongings they can carry, and find protection in a new community. The strength and capacities of the many millions of people who go through this experience and who adapt to their new communities and build a life there impresses me every day. What I also hear every time I speak with someone who is seeking asylum, or is a refugee or IDP, is that most of all, they want the possibility to get on with their life, to live a safe and independent everyday life again, and contribute to the society. They do not want to be dependent on aid. This is what we collectively need to support and enable,” said Karolina Lindholm Billing, a newly appointed Head of the UN Refugee Agency in Ukraine at the opening of photo-exhibition for the World Refugee Day in Kyiv.

World Refugee Day is observed each year on 20 June as a day designated by the United Nations to highlight the courage, resilience and contributions of people who have been forced to flee their homes to escape conflict, persecution or serious human rights violations.

The theme this year is inclusion, in recognition of UNHCR’s experience that when people who have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety are fully included as members of their new society and given equal access to rights and services, they have the greatest potential to contribute to the development of their communities and develop their own human capital.

UNHCR Ukraine, together with displaced persons themselves and partner organizations,  is organising more than 30  events around the country on the theme of inclusion and the message that "Together we can do anything".  Together we heal, learn and shine.

The various activities demonstrate the benefits of inclusion and of facilitating the integration of refugees and internally displaced persons, and show that no matter what a person’s background is – a doctor, builder, athlete, handcraft master – all can contribute when given the opportunity.



UNHCR Ukraine recently prepared a publication, reflecting on its engagement in addressing forced displacement in Ukraine over the last 25 years.

The full list of events for World Refugee Day in Ukraine can be found here .

The full text of the UNHCR Global Trends can be found here.

To see the video from the opening ceremony.

UNHCR 2020 Global Trends Report – key data:

  • 82.4 million people forcibly displaced globally (79.5 million in 2019) - 4 per cent increase
    • 26.4 million refugees (26.0 million in 2019) including:
      • 20.7 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate (20.4 million in 2019)
      • 5.7 million Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate (5.6 million in 2019)
    • 48.0 million internally displaced people (45.7 million in 2019)
    • 4.1 million asylum-seekers (4.1 million in 2019)
    • 3.9 million Venezuelans displaced abroad (3.6 million in 2019)
  • 2020 is the ninth year of uninterrupted rise in forced displacement worldwide. Today, one per cent of humanity is displaced and there are twice as many forcibly displaced people than in 2011 when the total was just under 40 million.
  • More than two thirds of all people who fled abroad came from just five countries: Syria (6.7 million), Venezuela (4.0 million), Afghanistan (2.6 million), South Sudan (2.2 million) and Myanmar (1.1 million).
  • Vast majority of world’s refugees - nearly nine in 10 refugees (86 per cent) - are hosted by countries neighbouring crises areas and low- and middle-income countries. The Least Developed Countries provided asylum to 27 per cent of the total.
  • For the seventh year in a row, Turkey hosted the largest refugee population worldwide (3.7 million refugees), followed by Colombia (1.7 million, including Venezuelans displaced abroad), Pakistan (1.4 million), Uganda (1.4 million) and Germany (1.2 million).
  • Pending asylum applications globally remained at 2019 levels (4.1 million), but States and UNHCR collectively registered some 1.3 million individual asylum applications, one million fewer than in 2019 (43 per cent less).

Additional information / supporting multimedia materials:

UNHCR’s Global Trends report and an accompanying package of multimedia assets are available on our media page: https://www.unhcr.org/unhcr-global-trends-2020-media-page-60be2dd14. The report is subject to a worldwide embargo of no use before 0500 GMT on 18 June 2021.


UNHCR’s Global Trends report is released in parallel with its annual Global Report, which reports on UNHCR programmes and activities to address the needs of all who are forced to flee, as well as the world’s known stateless populations.

For more details please contact Victoria Andrievska, Public Information Officer, UNHCR Ukraine: +380 50 413 8404, andrievs@unhcr.org