Research report

The global refugee crisis: a conspiracy of neglect

15 Jun 2015

Explores the startling suffering of millions of refugees, from Lebanon to Kenya, the Andaman Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and calls for a radical change in the way the world deals with refugees.

In the past two years, the world has witnessed a growing refugee crisis.

In 2013, for the first time since World War II, the number of those forcibly displaced from their homes exceeded 50 million. Millions more have since been displaced as a result of conflict and crises around the globe.

More than half of Syria’s population is displaced. Some four million women, men and children have fled the country and are refugees, making this one of the biggest refugee crises in history. The vast majority - 95% - are living in the countries neighbouring Syria. In one country - Lebanon - Syrian refugees now account for one in every five people.

Despite the huge influx of refugees, the host countries have received almost no meaningful international support. The UN’s humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees was only 23% funded as of the 3 June 2015. Calls by the UN for the international community to resettle refugees from Syria have largely fallen on deaf ears. The total number of places offered to refugees from Syria is less than 90,000, only 2.2% of the refugees in the main host countries.

While Syria is the world’s biggest refugee crisis, it is by no means the only one. In Africa people fleeing conflict and persecution in countries like South Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria and Burundi, have added hundreds of thousands to the longstanding refugee populations from countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There are more than three million refugees in sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya is home to Dadaab - the world’s largest refugee camp, set up in 1991.

Yet, the refugee situations in African countries receive little or no global attention - in 2013, less than 15,000 refugees from African countries were resettled and UN humanitarian appeals are severely underfunded. The South Sudan regional refugee response plan, for example, is only 11% fulfilled.

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