Turkey hosts 15% of world’s refugees, UN report finds

Of the refugees in Europe, 38% are estimated to be under the age of 18, the agency said. [Shutterstock/Alexandros Michailidis]

Turkey continued to be the largest refugee hosting country in the world, accounting for nearly 3.7 million refugees, or 15% of all people displaced across borders globally, according to a new report published on Friday by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Germany was the largest hosting country in the European Union, with 1.2 million refugees, the UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report found. Overall, the number of refugees hosted in Europe rose by 3%, with international protection being given to 284,900 people in Europe. Germany and Spain were responsible for hosting 83,700 and 46,500 refugees respectively, almost half of the total across Europe.

“Solutions require global leaders and those with influence to put aside their differences, end an egoistic approach to politics, and instead focus on preventing and solving conflict and ensuring respect for human rights,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Of the refugees in Europe, 38% are estimated to be under the age of 18, the agency said.

Turkey has hosted the most refugees since 2014 in the wake of the civil war in Syria. The EU brokered a €6 billion cash–for–migrants agreement with Ankara in 2016 in a bid to take the pressure off Greece and other European front–line states.

Despite the pandemic, the number of people fleeing wars, violence, persecution and human rights violations in 2020 rose to nearly 82.4 million people.

Control of migration and asylum claims remains prevalent among EU governments. In May, Denmark passed an unprecedented law permitting the government to send asylum-seekers to a third country to have their claims processed, despite the fact that the European Union forbids “externalisation” of the right to asylum.

The Danish law, which has been condemned by the EU and UNHCR, is likely to see the east African country, Rwanda, take on responsibility for processing asylum claims.

Hungary, meanwhile, has promised to veto a new treaty between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific community, arguing that it does not include sufficient safeguards to control migration flows.

In the meantime, EU interior ministers remain deadlocked over plans to reform the bloc’s rules on migration and asylum. The key proposal in the New Pact on Migration and Asylum tabled by the European Commission last September, would require member states to either accept asylum seekers, take charge of sending back those who are refused asylum, or offer financial assistance on the ground to front line EU states.

The pact also seeks to strengthen the role of Frontex, the EU agency responsible for external borders. More than 500 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea since the beginning of the year.

EU heads of state will discuss migration policy at the next European Council meeting, on 24-25 June, in Brussels.

[Edited by Josie Le Blond]

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