Jun 28th 2018

World Refugee Day 2018

The theme for World Refugee Day 2018 this year is “Now More Than Ever, We Need to Stand with Refugees”. World Refugee Day is held annually on June 20th to draw attention to the plight of refugees across the globe. The annual commemoration was started by the UN Refugee Agency and has been in practice since 2001.

The UN Refugee Agency’s annual Global Trends study found 68.5 million people had been driven from their homes across the world at the end of 2017, more people than the population of Thailand. Refugees who have fled their countries to escape conflict and persecution accounted for 25.4 million. This is 2.9 million more than in 2016, also the biggest increase UNHCR has ever seen in a single year.

New displacement is also growing, with 16.2 million people displaced during 2017 itself, either for the first time or repeatedly. That is an average of one person displaced every two seconds. Leading the displacement during the year was the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the war in South Sudan and the flight into Bangladesh from Myanmar of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees.

Large-scale displacement across borders is also less common than the 68 million global displacement figure suggests. Almost two-thirds of those forced to flee are internally displaced people who have not left their own countries. Of the 25.4 million refugees, just over a fifth are Palestinians under the care of UNRWA. Of the remainder, for whom UNHCR is responsible, two-thirds come from just five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. An end to conflict in any one of these has potential to significantly influence the wider global displacement picture.

As with the number of countries producing large-scale displacement, the number of countries hosting large numbers was also comparatively few. Turkey remained the world’s leading refugee hosting country in terms of absolute numbers, with a population of 3.5 million refugees, mainly Syrians.

How to help

You can support refugee resettlement in New Zealand through volunteering, donating, or employing someone from a refugee background.

World Refugee Day 2018