Earth & Conservation

Which Countries Have The Most Refugees?

Of the 21 million refugees in the world, only a handful of countries are taking in people. Which countries have taken in the most refugees?

In the West, much of the media attention regarding current refugee crises centers on European destination countries like Germany, France, Greece and the U.K. But as Laura Ling reports in today's Seeker Daily report, these countries only take in a tiny fraction of the current wave of refugees fleeing the war-torn Middle East.

The vast majority of refugees wind up in other Middle Eastern countries - three in particular. While hard numbers are hard to come by, Turkey is likely the country with the largest current refugee population. As of June 2016, it's estimated that three million asylum-seekers are currently residing within Turkey's borders. Roughly 90 percent are from Syria, where a brutal civil war is emptying entire cities and regions. But Turkey also takes in refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Somalia.

For several years, Turkey acted as a kind of waystation for those seeking to resettle in European countries - Greece, in particular. But after two years of grim fatalities, as migrants tried to make dangerous crossings by land and sea, the European Union struck a deal with Turkey. Migrants attempting to settle in Greece would be returned to Turkey, and in exchange Turkey would receive a significant package of international aid.

Unfortunately, according to multiple international observers, Turkish officials have failed to provide asylum seekers with adequate aid, and have even shipped many to other war-torn countries.

RELATED: Is Turkey An Islamic or Secular Country?

The country of Jordan has also taken in millions of refugees - for generations, actually. More than two million Palestinians have moved to Jordan since the mid-20th century, most of whom settled there after Jordan annexed the West Bank. In recent years, the Syrian civil war has displaced many Palestinian Syrians, making then double refugees. In 2014, Jordan closed its border with Syria and in 2016 Jordan's King Abdullah II announced that his country could no longer provide aid to refugees without further help from the international community.

Pakistan is the third nation on our list, hosting an estimated 1.6 million refugees as of the end of 2015. Most refugees in Pakistan come from neighboring Afghanistan, where many fled from Soviet occupation during the Cold War. In fact, the majority of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and second- or third-generation. In December 2015, Pakistan gave all refugees six months to leave, later extending the deadline another six months.

Laura has more details in her report, or click on over to our related report, What A Syrian Refugee's Dangerous Journey Looks Like.

-- Glenn McDonald

Learn More:

Amnesty International: Tackling the Global Refugee Crisis: from Shrinking to Sharing Responsibility

BBC: The Reverse Exodus of Pakistan's Afghan Refugees

The Washington Post: The E.U. Says Turkey is Safe for Refugees. Here's Why it Might Not Be.