Major host countries of refugees

Major host countries of refugees

Developing regions continued to shoulder a disproportionately large responsibility for hosting refugees. The Least Developed Countries, such as Bangladesh, Chad, DRC, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Yemen, hosted 6.7 million refugees, 33 per cent of the global total, while being home to 13 per cent of the world population and accounting for a combined 1.25 per cent of the global gross domestic product. These nations already face severe structural barriers to sustainable development, and usually have the least resources to respond to the needs of people seeking refuge. Altogether, nine of the top ten refugee-hosting countries were in developing regions (according to the United Nations Statistics Division classification) and 84 per cent of refugees lived in these countries.

Major host countries of refugees | end-2017 to end-2018

Major host countries of refugees end 2017 end 2018 UNHCR

TURKEY - 3.7 million refugees

As has been the case since 2014, Turkey was the country hosting the largest refugee population, with 3.7 million at the end of 2018, up from 3.5 million in December 2017. The vast majority of refugees in Turkey were from Syria with 3,622,400 making up more than 98 per cent of the entire refugee population. In 2018, there were 397,600 newly registered Syrian refugees and 113,100 new-borns in Turkey. In addition, there were 39,100 refugees from Iraq, as well as smaller numbers from the Islamic Republic of Iran (8,700) and Afghanistan (6,600).

At the end of 2018, Pakistan hosted the second largest refugee population with 1.4 million refugees. This population is similar in size to that reported at the end of 2017 with the addition of new-borns balanced out by reductions mainly due to returns. The refugee population in Pakistan continued to be almost exclusively from Afghanistan.

UGANDA - 1,16 million refugees

Uganda continued to host a large refugee population, numbering 1,165,700 at the end of 2018, a decline from the 1,350,500 reported at the end of 2017. While Uganda continued to receive new refugee arrivals throughout the year, this decline was mainly due to a verification exercise undertaken between March and October 2018. Uganda was host to refugee populations from several countries, the largest being from South Sudan (with 788,800 at the end of 2018), followed by DRC (303,100). There were also sizeable populations of refugees from Burundi (32,500), Somalia (18,800) and Rwanda (14,000).

SUDAN - 1 million refugees

The refugee population in Sudan increased by about 19 per cent over the course of 2018 to just over 1 million, with Sudan becoming the country with the fourth largest refugee population. Most refugees were from South Sudan (852,100), followed by Eritrea (114,500), Syria (93,500), CAR (7,000) and Ethiopia (6,000).

During 2018, the refugee population in Germany continued to increase, numbering 1,063,800 at the end of the year. More than half were from Syria (532,100), while other countries of origin included Iraq (136,500), Afghanistan (126,000), Eritrea (55,300), the Islamic Republic of Iran (41,200), Turkey (24,000), Somalia (23,600), Serbia and Kosovo (9,200), the Russian Federation (8,100), Pakistan (7,500) and Nigeria (6,400).

ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN - 979,400 refugees

The registered refugee population in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the sixth largest refugee-hosting country, remained unchanged at 979,400 at the end of 2018. The vast majority were from Afghanistan (951,100), with a smaller number from Iraq (28,300).

LEBANON - 949,700 refugees

The refugee population in Lebanon also declined slightly, mainly due to data reconciliation, deregistration, and departures for resettlement. However, Lebanon still hosted nearly 1 million refugees at the end of 2018 (949,700), compared with 998,900 at the end of 2017. Most refugees in Lebanon were from Syria (944,200), with an additional 4,500 from Iraq.

BANGLADESH - 906,000

Bangladesh continued to host a large refugee population at the end of 2018, almost entirely comprising refugees from Myanmar, many of whom arrived during 2017. The number stood at 906,600 at the end of the year, a decline from 932,200 the previous year, mostly due to statistical adjustments following family count exercises. Still, there were 16,300 new registrations during the year.

ETHIOPIA - 903,200 refugees

The refugee population in Ethiopia – the ninth largest refugee host country – increased during 2018, reaching 903,200. Nearly half of the population came from South Sudan, bringing the total number of South Sudanese refugees in the country to 422,100. There were 257,200 refugees from Somalia, while significant numbers from Eritrea (174,000) and Sudan (44,000) remained in Ethiopia at the end of 2018.

JORDAN - 691,000 refugees

Jordan experienced a slight increase in its refugee population, providing protection to 715,300 people by the end of 2018, up from 691,000 in 2017 and making it the tenth largest refugee-hosting country in the world. The vast majority of these refugees were from Syria (676,300), while 34,600 were from Iraq.


Other countries hosting significant refugee populations of more than 200,000 people at the end of 2018 included:

  • Democratic Republic of Congo - 529,100 refugees
  • Chad - 451,200 refugees
  • Kenya - 421,200 refugees
  • Cameroon - 380,300 refugees
  • France - 368,400 refugees
  • China - 321,800 refugees
  • the United States of America - 313,200 refugees
  • South Sudan - 291,800 refugees
  • Iraq - 283,000 refugees
  • Tanzania - 278,300 refugees
  • Yemen - 264,400 refugees
  • Sweden - 248,200 refugees
  • Egypt - 246,700 refugees

Comparing situation in the host countries

Comparing the size of a refugee population with that of a host country can help measure the impact of hosting that population. Lebanon, while hosting the seventh largest refugee population, had the highest refugee population relative to national population with 156 refugees per 1,000 national population.

Similarly Jordan hosted the tenth largest refugee population but the second largest relative to national population with 72 refugees per 1,000. These figures relate only to the refugee population under UNHCR’s mandate, and Lebanon and Jordan respectively hosted an additional 1.4 million and 2.2 million Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate.

Turkey hosted the third largest refugee population relative to its national population with 45 refugees per 1,000. Half of the ten countries with the highest refugee population relative to national population were in sub-Saharan Africa.

In high-income countries, there were, on average, 2.7 refugees per 1,000 national population, but this figure is more than doubled in middle- and low- income countries, with 5.8 refugees per 1,000.


IMAGE CREDIT: Wikmedia iCommons / Mark Knobil from Pittsburgh, USA [CC BY 2.0 (]

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