Every year natural disasters, conflicts and human rights violations force millions of people to leave their homes and to flee to save their lives. Today, there are more than 59.5 million people in need of help and protection as a consequence of forced displacement. The protracted crises in Syria, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Ukraine are major aggravating factors.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), globally some 38.2 million people are internally displaced, around 19.5 million are refugees and 1.8 million applied for asylum in 2014.
Syria became the world’s largest source country of refugees during 2014 with an estimated 3.9 million people, overtaking Afghanistan, which had held this position for more than 30 years. Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Myanmar/Burma follow.
Beyond its borders, the EU is at the forefront in supporting refugees and internally displaced persons, and addressing the conflicts that force them to flee their homes in the first place.
The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) supports displaced people in all major crises, including Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan, Somali refugees in Kenya and Yemen, Congolese refugees in the Great Lake region, Colombian refugees in Ecuador and Venezuela, Myanmar/Burma refugees in Thailand, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and Sahrawi refugees. In 2014, ECHO gave over €854 million or some 70% of its annual humanitarian aid budget to projects helping refugees and IDPs in over 33 countries worldwide.