12 per cent of world's refugees from Iraq

  • April 20, 2010
Iraqi Refugees mapThere are some 16 million refugees in the world, and another 26 million internally displaced people — people who haven’t crossed a border but still can’t go home.

Of the total, Iraq accounts for 1.9 million or 12 per cent of the world’s refugees, to say nothing of 2.6 million internally displaced Iraqis.

According to the UNHCR, 25,644 Iraqi refugees returned home last year. Another 195,890 internally displaced Iraqis also found their way home.

The number of the world’s refugees formally seeking asylum is relatively small.

In 2009 the UNHCR received applications for asylum from 377,000 refugees worldwide. Seven per cent of the asylum seekers were Iraqi. Afghanis and Iraqis have run neck-and-neck for years in terms of the largest number of asylum applications. Last year Afghanis took first place with 26,800 submissions to the Iraqis’ 24,000.

The United States has long been the number one destination for asylum seekers. Last year the United States attracted 13 per cent of all applications for asylum — 49,000 people.

Canada has been number three in the world for years, but the actual number of asylum applications for Canada dropped 10 per cent between 2008 and 2009 to 33,000.

The number two asylum country is France, which received 42,000 applications, a 19-per-cent increase in 2009 powered mainly by applications from Kosovo.

The UNHCR has a list of 29 different populations of 25,000 or more refugees in 22 nations who have been in exile for five years or longer, and for whom there are no solutions in sight. That’s 5.7 million refugees living in limbo.

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