A year of crises: Global refugee trends

UNHCR Global Trends 2011 Refugee ReportA report released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees shows 2011 to have been a record year for forced displacement across borders, with more people becoming refugees than at any time since 2000. UNHCR’s ‘Global Trends 2011’ report details for the first time the extent of forced displacement from a string of major humanitarian crises that began in late 2010 in Côte d’Ivoire, and was quickly followed by others in Libya, Somalia, Sudan and elsewhere. In all, 4.3 million people were newly displaced, with a full 800,000 of these fleeing their countries and becoming refugees.” (Quoted from the UNHCR Press Release)
In the Worldmapper project we have mapped refugees before (see the maps of refugee origins and destinations) but these maps are far more outdated than most material that we have on Worldmapper. Not only provides the new report a comprehensive updated series of data, but also are refugee numbers of an extremely changing nature as they do not follow general mid- or long-term trends (such as changes in population or carbon emissions). As the introductory statement indicates, humanitarian crises and other hardly predictable events can result in changing refugee patterns.
The following two maps show the updated picture of refugee trends in 2011 as published in the UNHCR report this week (which also saw the commemoration of World Refugee Daydedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world“. The two maps use the total numbers for ‘refugees and people in refugee-like situations’ according to their country of origin and destination. Excluded in these maps are those refugees whose origin is unknown or who are stateless:

Cartograms / Maps of Refugee Origin and Destination Countries in 2011
(click for larger version)

The Guardian did a visualisation of the data in a conventional map projection where it also summarizes some of the key findings:

There were 800,000 new refugees in the world in 2011 […]. 2011 is a record year for forced displacement, with more people becoming refugees than at any time since 2000.
• Afghanistan still produces more refugees than any other country – 3,054,709 – followed by Iraq and Somalia
• The US and the UK produced as well as accepted refugees in 2011. US: 3,778 (+24.9%) and UK: 150 (-2.2%)
• Côte d’Ivoire has seen a 270% increase in just one year, and Libya +89.9%
• 4.3m people were newly displaced
• In many countries, the majority of people “of concern” to the UNHCR are children aged under 18 – 72% in Eritrea, for example

More details and the full report can be found on the UNHCR website: http://www.unhcr.org/4fd9e6266.html

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