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Every 4.1 seconds someone becomes a refugee
A look at the growing number of people displaced by war and other crises
 
Children line up to receive aid on the Syrian-Turkish border.
Children line up to receive aid on the Syrian-Turkish border. AHMED JADALLAH/Reuters/Corbis

The number of people around the world who have been forced to flee home due to war or some other life-threatening crisis hit a 19-year high in 2012, according to a new report by the United Nations' refugee office. In all, 45.2 million people have been displaced by conflict and crisis. "This means one in each 4.1 seconds," says Antonio Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees. "So each time you blink, another person is forced to flee." Here, a look at the extent of the global refugee epidemic, by the numbers:

28.8 million
Those among the world's 45.2 million refugees who have been internally displaced.

15.4 million
Refugees who have had to cross a border into another country to find safe harbor.

937,000
Those who left home seeking formal asylum in their adopted countries.

7.6 million
People pushed out of their homes by crisis for the first time last year.

6.5 million
Refugees who found shelter within the borders of their home country in 2012.

1.1 million
Refugees who had to seek shelter abroad in 2012.

23,000
Newly displaced people every day in 2012, up from about 14,000 a day in 2011.

2.1 million
Internally displaced people who were able to return home in 2012.

526,000
Refugees who were able to return home from abroad in 2012.

46
Percentage of the world's refugees under the age of 18.

55
Percentage of the global refugee population coming from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, or Sudan.

50
Percentage of the world's refugees who come from countries where the GDP per capita is below $5,000.

1.6 million
Foreign refugees in Pakistan, the country hosting the largest number of displaced people from abroad (mostly Afghanistan).

70,400
Asylum requests to the United States, the country that received the greatest number of applications from those seeking a permanent new home.

81
Percentage of refugees living in developing countries.

70
Percentage of the world's refugees who were living in developing countries a decade ago.

1.6 million
Refugees from Syria who have fled abroad — most of whom to neighboring Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Syria is currently the fourth-largest source of refugees in the world, but it is expected to climb into the top three in 2013.

320,050
People who were still displaced in Haiti at the end of 2012, three years after the Caribbean nation was slammed by an earthquake that, according to government estimates, killed hundreds of thousands of people and left 1.6 million homeless.

3.5 million
Refugees around the world who are living in tents.

Sources: Al Jazeera, Christian Science Monitor, Miami Herald, Newser, United Nations

 
Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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