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See the Rise in the World Refugee Population in the Past 65 years

1 minute read

Refugees are as old as warfare, but it wasn’t until the United Nations designated a formal status for refugees in 1951 that we’ve had reliable data on the global population of people displaced from their home countries. According the U.N., more than 300,000 refugees and immigrants have tried to cross from the Middle East to Europe through the Mediterranean in 2015.

The following chart displays that data by the region from which the refugees have fled.

As one can see, it wasn’t until 1960 that the UN began to track refugees by their country of origin, so the first decade of data generically identifies the displaced as being from various or unknown locations.

While the Middle East has produced its fair share of refugees for decades, there is a marked uptick in refugees from the region since the crisis in Syria began. Mouse over a bar to see the precise number of refugees from a location in a given year.


The U.N. refugee agency categorizes displaced persons into several categories. This chart focuses on those designated as “Refugees (including refugee-like situations),” which constitute the majority of those in the database.

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Write to Chris Wilson at chris.wilson@time.com