War, political turmoil, ethnic conflicts and deteriorating economies have forced millions across Europe, Africa, South America, the Middle East and Asia to flee their homes. InfoMigrants takes a look at some major refugee crises around the world.
According to the UNHCR, the total number of Burundian refugees stood at 342,867 at the end of July 2019. Scattered across camps in Tanzania, Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, the refugees only have access to very basic facilities.
Meanwhile in Burundi, economic decline, food insecurity and the outbreak of diseases such as malaria and cholera continue to pose a humanitarian crisis. Although the worst has passed, the situation remains fragile, with an unresolved political situation and continued displacement within and outside the country.
Relief funding for the Burundian refugee crisis is the lowest spent on any situation globally. In 2018, UNHCR and its partners received just 33 percent of the required 391 million US dollars requested to support the Burundian refugees who are displaced since the unrest began in 2015.
President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third, unconstitutional term in April 2015 sparked protests. His re-election in July turned the unrest into a violent conflict.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Crisis
Considered one of the most complex and challenging humanitarian situation worldwide, the long-running crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo is responsible for over 850,000 refugees spread across the African continent.
The crisis started between 1960 and 1965. Hopes soared after the civil war was brought to an end in 2003, but fighting erupted again in the eastern parts of the country. Since 2016, a new wave of violence hit DRC’s southern and central regions. Thousands of civilians are struggling for survival.
Over a million refugees reached Europe in 2015, primarily from the Middle East and Afghanistan. In the following years, border restrictions and tightening of asylum policies have gradually cut down the number of arrivals. 2016 saw 370,000 arrivals, in 2017 over 180,000 reached Europe and in 2018 a total of around 140,000 migrants and refugees from Asia, Africa & the Middle East came to Europe. Roughly over 14,000 people have either gone missing or drowned in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe since 2015.
The vast majority of refugees arriving in Europe is from Syria, where a violent civil war continues to engulf parts of the country. Iraqis seeking refuge from violence and unrest, Afghans fleeing the Taliban and African migrants in search of a better life form other large groups.
Europe’s response has been somewhat mixed in accepting refugees and migrants. While some countries have taken more than their fair share of refugees, others have completely shut their doors, brining the block’s solidarity and unity at stake.
Triggered by violent attacks by the Islamist group Boko Haram, the Nigerian refugee crisis is in its sixth year in 2019. Since then, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have been drawn into what has become a regional conflict.
Over 2.7 million people have been displaced due to the security situation, which include about 1.9 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in north-eastern Nigeria, over 541,000 IDPs in Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Over 240,000 Nigerians are living as refugees in the four countries.
The crisis has been amplified by food insecurity and severe malnutrition, which have risen to critical levels in all four states. To date, some 3.5 million people remain food insecure in the Lake Chad Basin region.
South Sudan Situation
According to the UNHCR, there are currently around 2.3 million refugees and asylum seekers from South Sudan in the region, mainly in Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda. Within the country as well, there are about two million IDPs.
Women and children account for almost 83 percent of the refugees. They face severe shortages in food and health supplies as well as opportunities for education.
The UNHCR is appealing for 2.7 billion dollars to address the life-saving humanitarian needs of South Sudanese refugees in 2019 and 2020. In 2018, UNHCR and its partners received just 38 percent of the required 1.4 billion.
The civil war in South Sudan between the government forces and the opposition is going on since 2013.
Violence, political insecurity, threats as well as lack of food, medicine and essential services, have prompted over 4 million Venezuelans to seek refuge in Latin America and the Caribbean. Host countries and communities in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru and the Caribbean have been welcoming them, but are increasingly overstretched.
The socioeconomic and political crisis in Venezuela began in President Hugo Chavez’s tenure and has worsened during the presidency of Nicolas Maduro. Their supporters attribute the problems to the “economic war” waged against Venezuela, falling oil prices and international sanctions while the critics say the causes include economic mismanagement and corruption.
Central African Republic (CAR) Crisis
Hundreds and thousands of people were forced to flee their homes as violence spread in the Central African Republic in December 2013. Since then some 600,000 people have taken refuge in neighboring Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo as well as Sudan and South Sudan. Meanwhile, CAR continues to experience sporadic surges of violence.
One of the most poorly funded emergency situations globally, refugees from CAR lack even basic facilities such as food, health, shelter, water and sanitation.
Displacement in Central America
The number of refugees and asylum seekers from Central American countries has considerably increased in the last five years. There are currently over 350,000 refugees and asylum seekers worldwide. They are escaping gang violence, threats, extortion, recruitment into gangs or prostitution, as well as sexual and gender-based violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Host countries and communities in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama, have been doing their best to welcome the ones forced to flee.
UNHCR needs 44.5 million dollars in 2019 to continue responding to the immediate and persistent needs of internally displaced people, asylum seekers, refugees and deportees from North Central America (NCA) and Nicaragua.
Decades of conflict and violence have forced millions of Iraqis to abandon their homes. Since 2014, more than 3 million people have been displaced within Iraq and over 260,000 are living as refugees in other countries. It is estimated that over 11 million Iraqis are currently in need of humanitarian assistance within the country and outside.
Over a million Rohingya fled violence in Myanmar in successive waves of displacement since the early 1990s. The largest exodus took place in 2017, when over 742,000 crossed over to Bangladesh as violence broke out in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Most sought shelter in and around the refugee settlements in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district. The vast majority that reached Bangladesh were women and children and more than 40 percent were under the age of 12.
While the UN described the offensive in Rakhine as a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing’ in one of its reports, Myanmar's military says it is fighting militants and denies targeting civilians.
The Muslim Rohingya minority has faced decades of discrimination and repression in Myanmar. They were denied citizenship under the 1982 Citizenship Law, making them one of the largest stateless populations in the world.
Syrian Refugee Crisis
After the civil war broke out in March 2011, over 5.6 million Syrian people fled their country and sought refuge in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Europe. Meanwhile, millions more are displaced inside Syria.
Turkey hosts the largest number of registered Syrian refugees, roughly over 3.3 million.
UNHCR says it requires 4.4 billion dollars to support over 5 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries and some four million people in the communities hosting them.
Fighting between the government and Houthi rebels in Yemen has disrupted millions of lives, resulting in widespread casualties and massive displacement. Civilians bear the brunt of the crisis, with 22.2 million Yemenis now in need of humanitarian assistance. Roughly 190,000 have fled to neighboring countries.
Yemen is facing a humanitarian catastrophe. Without help, many more lives can be lost to violence, illnesses or lack of food, water and shelter.
Afghan Refugees Situation
The Soviet War in Afghanistan displaced over six million people in 1979. The Soviet Union withdrew all its troops in 1989, but the civil war continued as the Mujahedeen wanted to topple President Najibullah’s government, which they were eventually able to do in 1992. This was followed by the rise of the Taliban. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US started military action in Afghanistan against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban; a military presence continues today.
As a result of these situations, there are some 2.6 million Afghans registered as refugees in more than 70 countries around the world. An overwhelming majority of Afghan refugees, almost 95 percent, live in just two countries, Pakistan and Iran. Over 1.3 million Afghans are registered as refugees with the UNHCR in Pakistan; whereas in Iran, the number of registered Afghan refugees is also over a million.
Based on figures by the UNHCR