Reuters

A new UN report shows the urban face of global displacement.

Earlier this week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released its annual report [PDF] on the world's refugees and displaced peoples. By the end of 2011, there were roughly 42.5 million people worldwide who were either refugees, internally displaced in their own countries, or in the process of seeking asylum in other countries.

Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia are the sources of the highest numbers of refugees worldwide. Pakistan, Iran and Syria are the top refugee-hosting countries.

The report also notes where within those countries these refugees, displaced people and asylum-seekers, end up. For the most part, internally-displaced people tend to end up in rural areas, and refugees and asylum-seekers end up in urban areas. Refugee camps tend to be located in rural areas, according to the report, while refugees living in individual accommodations tend to concentrate in urban areas. The type of accommodation is known for about three-quarters of the 10.4 million refugees in the world. As this table shows, more than half end up in individual accommodations. Most of the world's refugees are urban.

Courtesy UNHCR Global Trends Report

The report's data tables include population data at the state/provincial level, and sometimes at the city level. Pakistan, for example, is hosting the largest population of refugees for any country – 1.7 million – with nearly 95 percent coming from Afghanistan. Of those, more than 1 million are living in individual accommodations in urban areas. More than 35,000 are in Islamabad alone. The story is similar in the other leading refugee-hosting countries as well.

While there are many rural refugee camps in these places – nearly 90 of them in Pakistan, as an example – this report underlines the reality that the world's refugees are increasingly a population that will need to be accommodated in urban areas.

Top image: A refugee stands in a classroom at a school that had been converted into a shelter in Yemen in October 7, 2011. (Reuters)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    Amazon Should Just Build HQ2 In My Apartment

    Since no city submitted the perfect bid for the company’s second world headquarters, I put together my own.

  2. Life

    In Montreal, French Expats Find Language Doesn't Translate to Community

    More Parisians are moving to Quebec seeking lower rents, jobs, and an easy cultural fit. But as housing prices rise, so does resentment among the city’s locals.

  3. POV

    One of the Greatest Threats to Our Lifespans Is Loneliness

    What would society be like if health insurers and public bodies invested as much in encouraging social encounters as exercise and good diet?

  4. Raj Chetty
    Equity

    Why the Solutions to Economic Mobility Are Local

    The American Dream now comes down to a coin toss, explains economist Raj Chetty.

  5. Construction workers build affordable housing units.
    Equity

    Why Is 'Affordable' Housing So Expensive to Build?

    As costs keep rising, it’s becoming harder and harder for governments to subsidize projects like they’ve done in the past.