Migrant and refugee children

According to the World Migration Report 2018, prepared by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there are an estimated 244 million international migrants worldwide (of whom 52 per cent are male and 48 per cent female), accounting for 1 in every 30 people in the world. In 2015, Asia and Europe hosted around 75 million migrants each, accounting for 62 per cent of the global population of international migrants. These regions were followed by North America, with 54 million international migrants in 2015, or 22 per cent of the global migrant stock, Africa with 9 per cent, Latin America and the Caribbean with 4 per cent, and Oceania with 3 per cent of the global population of international migrants. When compared with the population in each region, shares of international migrants in 2015 were highest in Oceania, North America and Europe, where international migrants represented, respectively, 21 per cent, 15 per cent and 10 per cent of the total population. 

Migration can be a positive experience, and many migrants choose to move in search of opportunities of one kind or another. For millions of others, however, leaving home is a traumatic experience driven by basic survival, including the need to escape food or personal insecurity, conflict (including acts of violent extremism outside actual war zones), persecution, dire poverty, or economic hardship. The number of people forced to leave their homes has increased by more than 50 per cent over the last five years, up from 42.3 million in 2012 to 65.6 million.  It is estimated that every minute, 20 people are forced to flee to escape violence, persecution or conflict. As a result of these unprecedented numbers, there are currently 10 million stateless people around the world, denied a nationality and often denied access to basic rights. 

Patterns of displacement demonstrate distinct geographical specificities. The majority of displaced persons (62.4 per cent) are internally displaced – that is, they move within their own country - and when they cross borders they tend to remain in neighbouring countries. This pattern also holds true for 53 per cent of children on the move.  Most international movement is, therefore, intra-regional in nature. This is particularly the case for refugees and asylum seekers: 86 per cent of those under the mandate of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) are hosted in countries neighbouring conflict areas (see Appendix 8 for a full discussion of the work of UNHCR).  

Data indicate that in 2016 there were 40.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide and 22.5 million refugees. Today, the total number of people estimated to have been displaced globally is the highest on record.