Special Report

The 8 US Wars That Displaced the Most People After 9/11

Since the United States began its ongoing global war on terror following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it has been involved militarily in countries with conflicts that have displaced tens of millions of people.

Along with metrics about how many civilians have been killed or injured in the global war on terror, wartime displacement is another important measure. The war sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, for example, has displaced nearly 8 million Ukranians who have fled to other European countries and millions more who have sought refuge internally from their shattered homes and neighborhoods. (Here are 29 countries currently at war.)

According to one academic study, at least 37 million people have had their lives completely upended in eight countries the U.S. has engaged in militarily since the 9/11 attacks.  

To determine the U.S. wars that displaced the most people after 9/11, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a study from the Watson Institute of Brown University titled “Costs of War, Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States’ Post-9/11 Wars.” The study examined the number of refugees, asylum seekers, and those internally displaced by wars “in which U.S. forces have been most significantly involved.” Countries are ordered by the number of refugees and asylum seekers. We included current population data from the World Bank.

Among the eight countries where the U.S. has been most significantly involved since 9/11, two engagements ended last year with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and four are ongoing U.S. military engagements: in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen. (Also see, the U.S. government is involved in secret wars in 15 countries.)

The definition of war here is broadly defined. For example, the U.S. fought a war in the Philippines from 1899 to 1902, but from 2002 to 2007 it deployed hundreds of non-combat and support advisors in Manila’s fight against Islamist extremists in the south. Since the start of the global war on terror, internal conflict has forced more than 1.7 million Filipinos from their homes, most of them seeking refuge in other parts of the country. The U.S. involvement in this war is far different from its involvement in Iraq, for example.

Here are the U.S. wars that have displaced the most people since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

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