June 20 marks World Refugee Day, an anniversary "intended to be a celebration of the human spirit and of the fortitude of the millions of people who, despite being displaced and dispossessed, relentlessly strive to improve their lives and those of their families and communities," United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.
The commemoration came into existence in 2001 on the 50th anniversary of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention regarding the Status of Refugees. This year's theme, "Whoever, Whatever, Whenever. Everyone has the right to seek safety," captures the undeniable truth that every refugee, no matter their birthplace, origin, race or religion, is entitled to be treated with dignity.
Here are five important facts about refugees.
The 100 million milestone
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said in May that more than 100 million people had been driven from their homes around the world. The deadly conflict in Ukraine has been one factor that propelled millions of people to flee. Meanwhile, protracted conflict in places like Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo were other factors behind the high numbers.
UNHCR data includes refugees, asylum seekers and those displaced within their own countries. Over 85 percent of the world's refugees are hosted by developing countries, and some 68 percent of refugees come from five countries alone – Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar.
Over 13 million people have fled their homes since Russia launched a "special military operation" in Ukraine in February, according to the UN. Almost five million people have been received by neighboring countries, while the other eight million are thought to be internally displaced inside Ukraine.
Poland and Russia host the largest number of refugees from Ukraine, with the UN reporting over a million refugees in each of the two countries. Germany hosts the third-largest number of people, having received 780,000 refugees.
Over half of the world's refugees are children. "Many will spend their entire childhoods away from home, sometimes separated from their families. They may have witnessed or experienced violent acts and, in exile, are at risk of abuse, neglect, violence, exploitation, trafficking or military recruitment," the UNHCR said.
Country hosting the largest number of foreign refugees
Turkey currently hosts 3.7 million refugees from Syria. In March 2016, Turkey and the European Union struck a deal that requires Turkey to stop migrants from irregularly reaching the Greek islands. In exchange, it would receive 6 billion euros ($6.31 billion) in aid to improve the humanitarian situation faced by refugees in the country.
Since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, more than half of the population has been displaced, including 5.6 million refugees living in neighboring countries.
World's largest refugee camp
The Dadaab refugee complex, which is located in Kenya and comprises three large refugee camps, hosted more than 200,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, according to a 2021 UNHCR report. The majority of the occupants came from Somalia, having fled the civil war in Somalia.