An overcrowded world with wars puts millions in refugee camps.


 Global Inequality





Throughout the 20th century wars have been causing people to move from their homes.

Famines also cause people to migrate. Some of the famines are results of war as in Ethiopia and Mozambique.

At present Africa has the world's largest number of refugees. The Middle East has the next largest total.


  • Southern Sudan to Uganda and Kenya.
  • Darfur to Chad
  • 2,000,000 face starvation
  • Sierra Leone 500,000 refugees.
  • Ethiopia to Sudan and Kenya (returning 1993) but many still starving
  • Somalia to Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen: 1 million in neighboring countries
  • Mozambique to Malawi and South Africa 1.5 million refugees and 2 million internal refugees.
  • Angola to Zaire, Zambia 3 million internal refugees
  • Liberia to Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast 250,000 internal refugees.
  • Rwanda to Tanzania , Uganda and Zaire 1,000,000
  • Burundi to Zaire


  • Palestinians to Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Gulf.
  • Muslim Biharis to Bangladesh
  • Gulf migrant workers to Jordan
  • Afghans to Pakistan, Iran
  • Cambodians to Thailand
  • Vietnamese to Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia
  • Kurds from Iraq to Turkey, Iran
  • Azeris from Azerbaijan to Iran


  • Soviet Union and Kurds from Turkey to other countries
  • There are refugees in Russia: from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan. As ethnic hostility increases people are being displaced in Azerbaijan, Moldova. 25,000,000 Russians live outside Russia, of whom 1,000,000 have already fled into Russia where there is no accommodation.

    In the 1990s there was thought to be a possibiity that if food supplies run out in Russia the possibility existed of millions of refugees, possibly trying to reach western Europe where there are food surpluses.

  • Yugoslavia is now generating refugees from Croatia and Bosnia (2,000,000 by July 1992).
  • In the longer run there are possibilities of people being displaced from land liable to be flooded by rising sea levels. The largest groups are in Bangladesh and Egypt. There are many small islands in the Pacific and Caribbean which might disappear, fortunately with only small populations.

All the "developed" countries can expect pressure from the poorer countries for entry. As long as global inequality continues people will try to reach the richer areas, even to live in shanty towns on the edge of the developed cities. Experience shows that immigration laws do not prevent this movement. Chinese into Siberia, Mexicans into the United States and north Africans into Europe are examples of these movements. The Channel Tunnel has become a frontier where people from the poorer areas try to get into Britain.



Possible Solutions

The only way to prevent refugees is to avoid war, famine or inequality.

A denser world population than in the past means that the margin for surviving a season of drought or to accommodate refugees is reduced. In the past, when there was plenty of spare land, people who had to move could cultivate new land. Now they usually end in camps because most suitable land is already occupied.

Coordination of help to refugees is mostly in the hands of non-governmental organizations such as the International Red Cross and Oxfam. Much of the money has to be raised by media events and private contributions.

If very large numbers of people start moving, as at one time seemed likely from the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, these arrangements will prove insufficient. Climate Change is bound to generate huge numbers of refugees - in the hundreds of millions.

Last revised 18/08/09


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