Oxfam: World’s richest countries host just 9% of all refugees

Lebanon is one of the poor countries doing more than its fair share to host refugees from Syria. [Trocaire/Flickr]

The six biggest economies in the world currently host only 2.1 million refugees between them, while the poorest countries are forced to bear most of the burden, according to a new report by Oxfam. EURACTIV France reports.

The world’s six richest countries play only a marginal role in the hosting of refugees, most of whom find refuge in developing countries closer to home.

France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, China and Japan together account for more than 50% of the global economy. But according to a study published by Oxfam on Monday (18 July), these countries host just 9% of all refugees around the world, a total of 2.1 million people.

The NGO’s report highlights the efforts of countries like Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, South Africa and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which between them represent less than 2% of the world economy but host 50% of all refugees, or 12 million people.

“The international displacement we are seeing is an unprecedented and complex challenge requiring a coordinated global response. The richest countries need to be part of the solution and do their fair share by welcoming and protecting more refugees,” said Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of Oxfam International.

Germany leading developed countries

Of the six developed countries cited by Oxfam, Germany has opened its arms widest to refugees. Of the 2.1 million asylum seekers present in the six countries, 736,000 are in Germany.

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But while Berlin may have done more for refugees than many other rich countries, Oxfam stressed that the difference between their efforts and those of some developing countries is “considerable”.

Insufficient aid

Beyond statistics on the hosting of refugees, the report also gives details of the financial contributions the world’s major economies make to the management of the migration crisis.

According to Oxfam, in 2015 the six countries donated close to $2 billion to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). This United Nations agency acts as an international coordinator for aid for refugees.

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With an annual donation of $1.35 billion, the United States is the agency’s single biggest sponsor. Next is the United Kingdom with an annual contribution of $262 million, followed by Japan ($173 million), Germany ($142 million) and France (42 million).

The three European countries also contribute to the UNHCR through the European Union budget, which in 2015 contributed $191 million.

Accounting tricks and border controls

The Oxfam report also denounced the accounting of aid in some European countries, which is used to a large extent to control migration flows and police borders, rather than to help refugees.

“Aid to tackle poverty and inequality in developing countries is crucial, but European governments are prepared to work with and provide aid to regimes such as Sudan and Eritrea, in order to prevent the movement of people,” the report said.

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