Which countries take in the most refugees?

TOPSHOT - Afghan passengers sit as they wait to leave the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the group's feared hardline brand of Islamist rule. (Photo by Wakil Kohsar / AFP) (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)
Thousands of people have tried to flee Afghanistan following the Taliban's seizure of the country. (Getty Images)

The UK is set to take in thousands of refugees following the Taliban’s seizure of Afghanistan.

Boris Johnson has announced a new settlement scheme which will allow up to 20,000 Afghan vulnerable refugees to seek sanctuary in the UK over the coming years, with 5,000 over the next 12 months.

The Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme will give priority to women and girls, similar to the scheme in 2015 which took in Syrian refugees.

This, though, is a very small part of the overall refugee picture.

Watch: NHS doctor and former refugee says Afghans must be treated humanely in the UK

According to the latest United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) data, there are currently 82.4 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes, among these 26.4 million refugees who have fled to other countries. About 13 million of these are under 18.

Here is a breakdown of those figures.

Countries with largest refugee populations

Turkey has by far the largest refugee population at 3.7 million people, mostly from Syria, which neighbours the country at its southern border.

Germany has the biggest refugee population in central Europe, having taken in hundreds of thousands of Syrian people since 2015.

The 1951 Refugee Convention defines a refugee as “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion".

The above chart does not include asylum seekers (someone whose request for sanctuary has yet to be processed) and Venezuelans displaced abroad. That breakdown is instead demonstrated in the following chart...

Total forced displacement populations

Turkey remains the world's major host country under this extended definition, with 4 million refugees and asylum seekers combined.

European countries with largest refugee populations

Turkey and Germany, as shown in the above charts, account for nearly 5 million refugees in Europe.

France has the third-highest refugee population at 440,000, with 130,000 in the UK. According to UNHCR figures, 353 people were resettled in the UK in the year to March 2021, down from 4,968 the previous year.

Refugees' countries of origin


Unsurprisingly, due to the humanitarian crisis which has been ongoing since 2011, Syrian people account for the highest number of refugees in the world: more than double the number of Afghans.

Long before the Taliban's seizure of Afghanistan this month, violence in many parts of the country over recent years had been driving people from their homes.

UK refugees' countries of origin

People from Iran made up the highest proportion (15%) of the UK's 132,349 refugees as of March, according to the UNHCR figures.

It comes ahead of Boris Johnson's emergency recall of MPs to Parliament on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, including refugees.

Dr Waheed Arian, who himself fled Afghanistan for the UK in 1999 after the Taliban seized control across the nation in a violent conflict, called for incoming refugees and asylum seekers to be treated with compassion.

Dr Arian, 38, an NHS emergency doctor who lives in Chester, told PA on Tuesday: “When these refugees land anywhere in the world, they shouldn’t be criminalised, they shouldn’t be dehumanised, they should be treated just as humans."

Watch: Raab says Britain will be ‘big-hearted’ over Afghan refugees