Movement in Progress: 10 Facts on Forced Migration

10 Facts on Forced Migration
Forced migration is ever-present in society due to various coercive factors. From cases in the United States to Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the practice can be seen on almost every continent. The International Organization for Migration defines forced migration as the “movement of people caused by threats to their livelihoods.” This article will discuss 10 facts on forced migration that are the most critical in the world right now.

10 Facts on Forced Migration

  1. Columbia University gives categories to displaced persons: conflict-induced and disaster-induced. Those who are displaced by conflict are those who fled their homes due to violence — this circumstance accounts for about 12 million people. Disaster-induced displaced persons are those who undergo and escape natural disaster or human-made disasters such as floods, earthquakes, monsoons, deforestation or industrial accidents; this type of situation displaced about 19 million people in 2017.

  2. The most common distinctions between displaced persons are refugees, asylum seekers and Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs).  As defined by the UNHCR, refugees are people who live outside of their home country due to the fear of persecution. Gaining refugee status is a legal process in which a person must be determined a refugee by international, national or local law. This process can be carried out by a country or by the UNHCR, and this process differs everywhere. Asylum seekers are those who have crossed borders to flee violence, but whose refugee status is undetermined.  In contrast, IDPs are those who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict or disaster but have yet to cross an international border.

  3. Approximately 68.5 million people — mostly from Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan — have been forcibly displaced from their homes, which is the highest level of displacement in history. In 2017 alone, there were 30.6 million people displaced from their homes, approximately 11.8 million due to violent conflict or war, and 18.8 million due to natural disasters.

  4. Forced migration impacts the most vulnerable of people. According to the UNHCR, 52 percent of refugees were under the age of 18, and there were approximately 174,000 unaccompanied or separated children. Children may experience obstacles to education as forced migrants, and experience many social and cultural challenges in a place away from their home country. Unaccompanied children experience different challenges as they often lack the same protections and support as children with adult care, and many may suffer or be taken advantage of in a new environment.

  5. Sixty-eight percent of refugees came from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia in 2017. In fact, 6.3 million refugees came from Syria, 2.6 million from Afghanistan, and 2.4 million from South Sudan. Out of the 25.4 million refugees reported in the world, these three countries, in particular, make up more than half of the refugee population. These refugees come from conflict and war-torn regions where choosing to stay could mean risking their lives.

  6. One reason for the current peak refugee crisis is that only about 103,000 refugees were resettled in 2017. Resettlement is the relocation and integration of people (forced migrants in this case) into another country. The UNHCR lists resettlement as one of the three durable solutions to the refugee crisis as it is a long-term solution for those who cannot go back to their home country. Approximately 44,400 people are being displaced a day, and unfortunately, this resettlement number does not make up the difference. Resettlement numbers are so low because many developed countries are not resettling as many people as they usually do. This decrease could be due to the highly dependent nature of resettlement on political climates as well as the current administrations in charge.

  7. The countries hosting the most refugees are Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Uganda and Turkey. Relative to the national population, Lebanon hosted the most refugees of these countries with 1 out of 6 inhabitants being refugees. Jordan is next with 1 out of 14, followed by 1 out 23 in Turkey. Eighty-five percent of refugees in the world are going to other developing countries, and large amounts of displaced peoples can have severe effects on the global economy. There may be serious problems for national economies that lack enough jobs for displaced peoples who seek work, pressure can be put on already fragile infrastructure.

  8. Refugees can benefit economies. In fact, many refugees in the United States pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits. In places that aided refugees in finding work, most were employed within 6 years of their settlement.

  9. Forcible displacement is an issue receiving more attention in the media and one that people are becoming increasingly passionate about. The UNHCR is dedicated to helping those who are displaced in 128 countries, including those in Syria. The UNCHR not only aids refugees that live in Syria but also Syrian Internally Displaced Peoples. The UNHCR provides economic and legal assistance, as well as shelters, health services and violence protection.

  10. Many local cities around the globe have resettlement agencies that aid refugees and other displaced peoples through their resettlement process. Many cities across the United States have an Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), a non-profit responsible for resettling refugees into their communities. The ECDC’s work also involves community integration and education initiatives which shows their commitment to ensuring a happy and healthy future for their clients.

Work to Do

These 10 facts on forced migration help to show that there does not exist a simple solution to combat the forced migration crisis. Vulnerable people are still being forced from their homes and their livelihoods, and there is plenty of work that needs to be done. This work, however, has a dedicated workforce of people working hard for those who need it the most.

– Isabella Niemeyer

Photo: Flickr