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Refugees and displacement

Every minute in 2018, 25 people were forced to flee their homes. That amounts to 37,000 every day. To escape war, persecution, natural disasters, poverty and hunger, millions of people, they risk everything to find safety and security.

The past decade has seen a substantial increase in the world’s forcibly displaced population. Most of this increase was between 2012 and 2015, driven mainly by the Syrian conflict. As of the most recent 2018 year-end data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of displaced people worldwide reached an all time high of 70.8 million - more than the population of the United Kindgom. This number includes 25.9 million refugees receiving protection outside of their home countries. However, the vast majority (41.3 million) are people who have been displaced within the borders of their own countries as so-called internally displaced persons - or IDPs.

War and violence continue to be the main drivers of displacement. 57% of the world's refugees come from three countries - Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan, all countries caught in years-long violent conflict. In 2018, 13.6 million people were newly displaced, and Ethiopia was the country wiht the largest newly displaced population, with 1.5 million people. The ongoing civil war in Syria has accounted for the most of the world's refugees since 2013. In 2018, 632,700 people in Syria were newly displaced. There are 13 million Syrians displaced within or outside their country. The increase in global population of forcibly displaced persons has also been fuelled by significant deterioration of the humanitarian conditions in several countries: By the end of 2018, more than 3 million venezuelans had left their homes, fleeing food shortages and the economic collapse in Venezuela. 

Our work for refugees and displaced persons

A core part of our work at Malteser International is to enable and support comprehensive and durable solutions for refugees and displaced persons to allow them rebuild their lives and live in health and dignity.

In cooperation with our local partner organization, we have been providing cross-border medical aid for Syrians affected by the civil war since summer 2012. This includes aid for Syrian refugees in neighboring countries Lebanon and Turkey, as well as internally displaced Syrians who are either unable or unwilling to leave their homeland. Also in northern Iraq, we have expanded our emergency relief projects for refugees and displaced persons, and are supporting them in rebuilding their lives.

Just as the refugee crisis is not limited to the Middle East, our aid for refugees and displaced people encompasses a range of countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, including Bangladesh, Nigeria, Thailand, Myanmar, Uganda, South Sudan, DR Congo, Colombia, and Ukraine, where we work to provide an improved standard of health and quality of life for people who have been forced to flee their homes.

Refugees: Faces of a crisis

Every day, our work brings us into contact with people who tell amazing stories of the hope, tragedy, disappointment, and kindness that they have experienced as refugees or displaced people. You can read some of these here:



Global goal, local solutions

Malteser International is committed to improving the lives of people in need around the world. We are seeking out new partnerships, strengthening existing ones, and increasing our organization’s cross-sectoral work. As part of our aims to tackle the root causes of vulnerability, we work with local people to lead humanitarian responses and provide support to them to support long-term solutions for those in need.

With respect to the most pressing humanitarian issues of today, Malteser International is positioning itself for the future, especially with regards to the refugee emergencies around the world.

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