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Asia & The Pacific Regional Trends - Forced Displacement 2021

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The total number of persons of concern in Asia and the Pacific by the end of 2021 stood at 11.3 million, a 15 per cent increase from 2020. The region hosts 12 per cent of the global total of persons of concern to UNHCR (11.3 million out of 94.7 million). This includes 19 per cent of the world’s refugees (4.2 million of 21.3 million) within UNHCR’s mandate and 56 per cent of the world’s recorded stateless population (2.4 million out of 4.3 million).

As of end-2021, there were 4.2 million refugees, 4.4 million IDPs, 2.4 million recorded stateless persons (including displaced stateless persons), 1.1 million IDP returnees, 0.2 million asylum-seekers, and some 1,600 refugee returnees in Asia and the Pacific. Compared to the previous year, the highest increases concern IDP returnees (an increase of 622 per cent) and IDPs (an increase of 23 per cent). There are slight increases in refugee and stateless population groups: 3 per cent and 6 per cent respectively.

Over the last decade, the overall trends in the region show a steady increase since 2011 with a spike in 2021. In the last 10 years, the population of refugees and asylum-seekers remained relatively stable with an average of +/- 5 per cent change between the end of each year. The non-displaced stateless population has declined by 47 per cent, from 2.3 million to 1.2 million. This reduction is due to actions undertaken by governments in providing nationality to stateless people. Over the years, the internally displaced population has become a major population group in the region, increasing by over 130 per cent since 2011. Overall trends of refugee returnees in the region during this period have been decreasing with a spike in 2016. Returned IDPs trends decreased during the first half of the decade with a spike in 2015 and 2016. In 2021, there is a steep increase of returned IDPs in the region.

The availability of disaggregated data by age and gender varies widely between countries and population groups. Demographics data is available for 78 per cent of persons of concern to UNHCR in Asia-Pacific, a big increase from 65 per cent in 2020. This progress was made possible by the collaboration between UNHCR and academia to use statistical modelling to impute the sex and age-distribution for missing demographic data of Afghan refugees in Iran..

Looking at the available demographic data of persons of concern, 76 per cent of them are women (18+ female) and children (under 18), and 4 per cent are elderly people above 60. 52 per cent of all of persons of concern in the region are children, which is almost double compared to the proportion of children in the region, where children make up 28 per cent of the region’s population.

Of the total number of persons of concern in the region, 11 per cent resided in managed camp or camp-like settings, while 75 per cent resided out of camps with individual accommodation. Some 14 per cent lived in undefined accommodation types. Of those residing in camps, 56 per cent are in Bangladesh and 29 per cent in Pakistan.