Why is assistance important?
Each year millions of people are forced to leave their homes and seek refuge from conflicts, violence, human rights violations, persecution or natural disasters. The majority of today's refugees live in the developing world, which means that they flee to countries already struggling with poverty and hardship. Their survival usually depends on the availability of assistance which is provided by local communities and international organisations.
There are over 55 million people in dire need of protection and assistance as a consequence of forced displacement. They include refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and asylum-seekers. Globally, over 38 million people are displaced within their own country, while more than 16 million refugees who have sought safe haven in other countries and over 1 million asylum-seekers. Alarmingly, half of the global refugee population are children, the highest proportion in 10 years. Women and girls represent 49% of the entire refugee population (source: UNHCR Global Trends 2013).
Syria and Afghanistan remain the largest source of refugees, both with an estimated 2.5 million refugees, followed by Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Around four-fifths of the world's refugees have fled from the crisis areas into neighbouring countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
The countries with the highest number of internally displaced persons are Syria (over 7 million) and Colombia (over 6 million). Iraq and Sudan follow with over 3 million each. DRC, Pakistan, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Turkey complete the list of the first ten countries, which together account for 77% of the world’s all IDPs (IDMC 2015 Global Overview).
How are we helping?
As leading global donor, the European Commission gave more than €854 million or some 71% of its annual humanitarian aid budget in 2014 to projects helping refugees and IDPs in 33 countries. Humanitarian aid for refugees delivered by the European Commission helps to: meet the most pressing needs of refugees; protect and support refugees during their displacement and when returning to their place of origin; increase the self-reliance of refugees and reduce their 'dependency syndrome'.
The EU and its partner organisations, in particular the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), advocate and enable durable solutions for refugees, with regard to fulfilling the right of return to their countries of origin or habitual residence, but also for a better integration in the host communities. In this respect European Commission services are working closely to ensure that complimentary funding instruments work towards enhancing self-reliance, livelihoods and socio-economic opportunities of these vulnerable populations.
The Commission invests heavily in assisting refugees who are trapped in protracted situations, which affects more than 75% of the world's refugees. Through the Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), the EU is currently responding to needs of refugee population such as: 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 refugees in Thailand, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and Sahrawi refugees.
The Commission channels its support through organisations helping with migrants, refugees and IDPs. The Commission's main humanitarian partners include UNHCR, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the Red Cross and Red Crescent family and non-governmental organisations.
While supporting the victims of displacement, the European Commission is also working to decrease the number and scale of refugee crises: for instance, through its work on disaster preparedness and prevention, which aims to reduce the vulnerability of disadvantaged communities and prevent their displacement.