NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How Extensive Is The Refugee Problem?

November 20, 2000

When the United Nations High Commission for Refugees came into being in 1951 with a mandate to help settle displaced people after World War II, it had a staff of 33 and a budget of $300,000. today, it employs more than 5,000 with a budget of nearly $1 billion.

Its current caseload consists of some 26 million refugees in 120 nations.

  • These include more than 1.5 million displaced Africans.
  • Some 2.5 million Afghans are living in Iran and Pakistan.
  • Some 3.6 million Palestinian refugees are scattered in a 50-year diaspora around the world.
  • Germany hosts nearly 1 million refugees, mostly from Yugoslavia, turkey, Iran and Iraq -- and Yugoslavia itself has nearly a half-million refugees and internally displaced persons.

The High Commissioner, Ms. Sadako Ogata, says that Afghanistan, Angola and Congo are currently of greatest concern for her agency. "They are tired of having them and want them to go home," she says.

Source: Tom Carter, "Wave of Refugees Sweeps the Globe," Washington Times, November 20, 2000.


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