Global Refugee Crisis – Dealing With The Truths And Lies

I wrote this article to PoliticallyForward, as their contributor for Humanitarian Affairs, which is where it was first published.

The Global Refugee Crisis pose a great threat to the development of humanity. In the year 2018, we’ve seen a rise in the global refugee crisis and the need to implement better policy, legal protection, and rehabilitation procedures are vital. There is a lot of opinion and discussion going on online about the global refugee crisis and while it’s important to involve yourself in the discussion, it’s as important to understand the scope and other realities.
First, let’s understand who a refugee is. A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries. (CARE, 2018).
Then, we need to understand who an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) is. An IDP is a person who has been forced to flee his or her home for the same reason as a refugee, but remains in his or her own country and has not crossed an international border. Unlike refugees, IDPs are not protected by international law or eligible to receive many types of aid. (CARE, 2018).
Finally, we need to understand who an asylum seeker is. When people flee their own country and seek sanctuary in another country, they apply for asylum – the right to be recognized as a refugee and receive legal protection and material assistance. An asylum seeker must demonstrate that his or her fear of persecution in his or her home country is well-founded.
These terms cannot be used interchangeably. A refugee can become an asylum seeker, but a vast majority of them can’t because of the many bureaucratic and legal challenges. An Internally Displaced Person is still a person who is in need of high priority support but is usually stuck in their own country without the extraction resources. People in all these three categories have had to leave everything behind and is usually going through extreme trauma, mental and physical stress, and is in need of direct support.
Before we move on to the truths and lies, it is important to default your mindset to one basic concept. Everyone in the above three categories is human beings who need help.
  1. The U.S. is one of the biggest contributors, supporting refugees. But, the U.S. is not one of the top five host countries of refugees. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (June 2018) here are the top five refugee host countries: Turkey (3,500,000), Pakistan (1,400,000), Uganda (1,400,000), Lebanon (998,900), and Iran (979,400).

  2. According to the same report by UNRA, America’s has the lowest refugee population by region, in the world! The highest is the refugee population is found in Africa, having 6,268,200 refugees. Closely comes in Europe, providing refugee status for 6,114,300 people. Third is Asia Pacific (4,209,700), Fourth Middle East and North Africa and then last, Americas (644,200).
For more information about how the U.N gathered their data, and for statistical distributions, visit the original report here.
  1. More than 50 percent of refugees are children under the age of 18. In some reports, the refugee crisis is also known as the world’s biggest attempt to “save children.”

  2. In the US, refugee law is enshrined in the Refugee Act of 1980. For decades, the US has been the world’s largest resettlement country, with the world’s longest and most thorough refugee resettlement process. From beginning to end, the US resettlement process can take more than two years and it includes background checks, medical information, biometrics information analysis, and so much more. (Oxfam, 2018)**

  3. Because of the heavy and lengthy screening process, refugees are highly unlikely to do crime in the United States. This is a hard fact. According to the Cato Institute, refugees are less likely than other foreign nationals, or even US citizens, to kill others in terrorist attacks in the US. From 1975 to 2015, the annual risk of death to a US resident by a refugee terrorist in the country was 1 in 3.64 billion. (Oxfam, 2018)**

  4. Tax-dollars spent on refugees is one of the biggest investment America has ever made. Refugees receive assistance from the government during the first six months of their stay. Afterward, they are expected to provide for themselves. Refugees contribute significantly to the American economy: 13% were entrepreneurs (versus 9% of US-born citizens); their median household income after 25 years in the US is $67,000 ($14,000 more than the median for all US households); and in 2015, they paid a total of $20.9 billion in taxes. The Tennessee legislature Fiscal Review Committee found that over a period of two decades, local refugees had contributed twice as much in state revenues than they had consumed. In fact, refugees even pay back the cost of their flight to the US! (Oxfam, 2018).**

  5. Refugees aren’t “in all communities, everywhere.” Less than 1% of the global refugee population is resettled. Even a smaller percentage is selected to come to the US. With more than 325 million people in the US, refugees represent a minuscule portion of the population. (Oxfam, 2018)**

  6. Some people worry that as a wealthy country, the US is expected to assume disproportionate responsibility for refugees. In reality, however, the six richest countries in the world (including the US) take in less than nine percent of the world’s refugees while the overwhelming majority of refugees find shelter in poorer countries that struggle to support them. (Oxfam, 2018)**
To read more about the Facts about Refugees, Migrants, and Others Seeking Safety in the U.S., visit the Oxfam’s Migrant 101 report. **The report contains references to the primary sources for all the data mentioned in this article with relevant in-text references.
Next time you contribute to a discussion, remember that a refugee, internally displaced person and an asylum seeker are different stages/categories of people in need of dire help and is battling between life and death. Also, remember to concur with facts from the experts who are analyzing data in the field.


Global Refugee Crisis, CARE. Accessed: September 14, 2018:
United Nations Refugee Agency, Figures at a Glance. Accessed: September 14, 2018.
Facts about Refugees, Migrants, and Others Seeking Safety in the U.S. Accessed: September 14, 2018.