People on the Move

Every day across the world people make the difficult decision to leave their homes.

War, persecution, environmental disaster and poverty are just some of the reasons why a person might have to leave their family, community or country.

People on the Move

Every day across the world people make the difficult decision to leave their homes.

War, persecution, environmental disaster and poverty are just some of the reasons why a person might have to leave their family, community or country.

Refugees leave their country because they have no other choice and fear for their own life or safety or that of their family. Refugees also flee their country when their government will not or cannot protect them from serious human rights abuses.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) and those forced to move within their own country because of war, persecution or environmental disasters, rather than cross national borders.

Asylum seekers are people whose have reached another country and have submitted or will submit claims for refugee status; they have not been formally recognized as refugees. They have the same human rights as everyone else. Article 14 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that: "Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution."

A migrant is a person who moves from one place to another to live, and usually to work, either temporarily or permanently. They may be forced to leave because they do not have access to adequate food, water or shelter, or in order to ensure the safety and security of themselves and their families. They may move to take up employment, or to be reunited with family members. Many leave for a combination of reasons.

People often have more than one reason for leaving their home. Whatever the reason, however, all have human rights. In addition, refugees have a right to international protection.

Key facts

  • An estimated 200 million people live outside the country in which they were born - about 3% of the global population of 6.5 billion
  • There are an estimated 14.2 million refugees in the world, roughly 0.21% of the world's population
  • The numbers of internally displaced persons are currently estimated to be around 24.5 million - 0.4% of the world's population
  • The majority of refugees and IDPs are in Asia and Africa, which between them host a total of 9.2 million refugees and 18.1 million IDPs
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