The World’s Refugees, By the Numbers

Which countries produce the most refugees?

September 2022


Everyone knows America is a nation of immigrants. But less attention is paid to the fact that we’re also a nation of refugees. In fact, the United States has admitted 3.7 million refugees since 1980.i

The United Nations defines a refugee as a person who has fled their country and is unwilling or unable to return for fear of religious, ethnic, or other persecution.ii

There are around 27 million refugees in the world right now — a number that doesn’t include the 80,000 Afghans evacuated to the U.S. last summer nor the 6.5 million people fleeing Ukraine.

The top 5 countries of origin for recent refugees coming to the U.S.?

#5: Ukraine (7% of refugees)

#4: Burma (7.5% of refugees)

#3: Sudan (8.5% of refugees)

#2: Syria (23% of refugees)

#1: Democratic Republic of the Congo (25% of refugees)

The Afghans who recently evacuated to the U.S. aren’t classified as refugees because most don’t have permanent status.

America’s current policy is to admit 125,000 refugees a yeariii … but in the first three quarters of fiscal year 2022, it brought in only a little over 15,000. Government officials blame a lack of adequate staffing for the shortfalliv … which might explain why it takes an average of 18-24 months for refugees to get through the screening process to come to the U.S.v

One thing that’s definitely not causing the shortfall: a lack of demand. The U.N. estimates that more than 2 million refugees will be looking for a new country to call home by


  1. There are around 27 million refugees in the world right now.
  2. The United States has admitted 3.7 million refugees since 1980, and currently aims to bring in an additional 125,000 per year.
  3. Nearly half of refugees coming to the U.S. come from two countries: Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.



SOUND: “Reflections” (Panorama)
FOOTAGE: Omer Unlu (Pexels)

Delve Deeper

Bonus Content

More Videos

January 2023

A Revolution in Agricultural Productivity

From organic food to buying local, recent food trends have one thing in common: they can’t go to scale.
Watch Now...

January 2023

What Makes American Health Care Unique

Whether you think American health care is better or worse than the rest of the world, it’s definitely distinctive.
Watch Now...