As many as 2.7 million people from Afghanistan were displaced as of the end of 2019, as per the United Nations High Commission of Refugees’ (UNHCR) Global Trends 2019 report. June 20 is World Refugee Day. Afghanistan, along with Syria, Venezuela, South Sudan and Myanmar, account for two-thirds of the total global displaced population. A significant number of these displaced people have taken refuge in neighboring Pakistan and Iran.
Afghanistan was the second worst-affected country in 2017, as per the UNHCR report. The number of refugees dropped by 11% from around 3.1 million in 2018 to 2.7 million at the end of 2019. “The Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan continue to host 87 percent of Afghan refugees,” the 84-page report notes.
The United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that over 360,000 people were displaced internally in the Afghanistan conflict in 2019. Children constitute over 60% of the internally displaced persons.
Of the country’s total population of 38 million, one-fifth are former refugees who have returned to Afghanistan in the last two decades. “Only 8,400 Afghans returned in 2019, one of the lowest levels recorded in many years,” the report notes. 2018 was reportedly the deadliest year in Afghanistan, with over 10,000 casualties recorded, of which at least 3,804 were fatal.
As per the UNHCR report, “The Asia and Pacific region experienced a three per cent overall increase in the number of refugees over the decade, mostly due to the outflow of 700,000 stateless refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh beginning in August 2017. While the increase has been limited, the overall figures reflect the protracted plight of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has lasted for more than 40 years. Voluntary repatriation to Afghanistan continued through the decade, but at low levels.”