Majority of world's refugees are in developing countries, reveals a latest report by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday. The report is released at a time when anti-refugee sentiment is on the rise in many industrialized countries.
UNHCR's 2010 Global Trends report said that 80 percent of world's refugees are hosted by developing nations. It further mentioned that there are huge refugee populations in many of the world's poorest countries. Pakistan has the largest refugee populations at 1.9 million. Iran and Syria have 1.1 million and 1 million respectively.
With as many as 710 refugees for each U.S. dollar of its per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product), Pakistan has the biggest economic impact. It's followed by Democratic Republic of the Congo with 475 and Kenya with 247 refugees.
When it comes to comparison with Germany, the industrialized country with the largest refugee population (594,000 people), there are 17 refugees for each dollar of per capita GDP, the report said.
UNHCR's caseload was 2.1 million Europeans, displaced by World War II, when it was founded in 1950. But the scenario has changed now as the UN body's work has extended to over 120 countries. Its work encompasses people who are forced to flee across borders as well as those in flight within their own countries.
According to the report, 43.7 million people are now displaced worldwide that roughly equal the entire populations of countries like Colombia, South Korea, Scandinavia and Sri Lanka combined. With this total, 15.4 million are refugees, 27.5 million people displaced within their own country by conflict, and nearly 850,000 asylum-seekers.
Among the 15.4 million refugees, 10.55 million are under UNHCR's care and 4.82 million are registered with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.
The report, however, does not cover displacement seen during 2011, including from Libya, Côte d'Ivoire and Syria.
Fears about supposed floods of refugees in industrialized countries are being vastly overblown or mistakenly conflated with issues of migration. Meanwhile, it's poorer countries that are left having to pick up the burden, said António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
In 2010, 7.2 million people were found stuck in exile since 2001. Meanwhile, only 197,600 people were able to return home, the lowest number since 1990, according to the report. Even some refugees have been in exile for more than 30 years.
Afghans, who first fled the Soviet invasion in 1979, accounted for one third of the world's refugees in both 2001 and in 2010.