Special Report

10 Countries Sheltering the Most Refugees

4. Islamic Republic of Iran
> Total refugee population:
> Total native population: 77.0 million
> Est. number of refugees admitted in 2014: 125,000
> Country of origin of most refugees: Afghanistan

Like in China, Iran accepted a number of refugees in the late 1970s that comprise the majority of the refugee population currently living in the country. In fact, since 1979, either Pakistan or Iran has been the top hosting country for refugees in 33 of 36 years. Turmoil in Iraq and Afghanistan since then has increased the refugee population in Iran to more than 980,000, or 6.8% of the global refugee population, the fourth highest worldwide. Sanctions imposed by the international community in response to Iran’s nuclear program dramatically hindered the United Nations’ ability to provide aid last year. The UN is hopeful that the removal of sanctions earlier this year will improve living conditions for Iran’s refugee population.

3. Lebanon
> Total refugee population:
> Total native population: 4.5 million
> Est. number of refugees admitted in 2014: 400,000
> Country of origin of most refugees: Syria

Prior to the Syrian crisis that began in 2011, Lebanon hosted just 8,000 refugees. By 2014, more than 1.15 million refugees had entered the small Middle Eastern country, with more than 400,000 Syrians registering last year alone. Relative to Lebanon’s native population, the number of refugees is staggering. There are more than 232 refugees per 1,000 Lebanese, the highest ratio in the world. The country with the next highest ratio — Jordan — has just 87 refugees per 1,000 residents. The Lebanese government has recently closed its borders to Syrians fleeing conflict in their own country. Additionally, refugees are not permitted to work in Lebanon, and complicated administrative procedures will likely force a growing number of refugees in the country to become undocumented, which dramatically decreases the ability of humanitarian groups to provide aid.

2. Pakistan
> Total refugee population:
> Total native population: 182.6 million
> Est. number of refugees admitted in 2014: N/A
> Country of origin of most refugees: Afghanistan

Nearly all of the refugees in Pakistan are from Afghanistan, a country mired by conflict for decades. In fact, Pakistan has been the top hosting country in the world for 22 of the last 36 years. Currently, 1.5 million refugees live in Pakistan, the second highest number of refugees globally. Despite the large number of refugees living in the country, the total number actually declined in 2014, as the Pakistani government refused to renew nearly 136,000 Proof of Registration cards for Afghan refugees. Despite the protracted refugee crisis, some hold out hope that U.S. intervention can help stabilize the region, eventually allowing Afghan refugees to return home.

1. Turkey
> Total refugee population:
> Total native population: 76 million
> Est. number of refugees admitted in 2014: 1.2 million
> Country of origin of most refugees: Syria

As the gateway to Europe from the Middle East, Turkey has become the largest host of refugees from Syria. With more than 1 million additional Syrians seeking protection in the country in 2014, Turkey became the world’s top host country with a total refugee population to nearly 1.6 million, or 11% of all refugees worldwide. Within Europe, Turkey has accepted more than half of the 3.1 million refugees fleeing to the continent.

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