Members' Research Service By / June 19, 2023

World Refugee Day 2023

Many of the world’s displaced people seek protection in the EU.

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Written by Anita Orav.

In December 2000, in a resolution to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the United Nations General Assembly designated 20 June as World Refugee Day. According to UN estimates, 117.2 million people will be forcibly displaced or stateless in 2023 in the world, nearly 29.3 million of them refugees.

A refugee is a person who, owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted in his or her country of origin for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, receives international protection by another state on its territory.

Looking for protection in Europe

Many of the world’s displaced people seek protection in the EU. After the peak of migrant arrivals to the EU in 2015 and 2016 had subsided, with the pandemic then restricting migratory flows, arrival numbers began rising again in 2021. In 2022, the number of first-time asylum applicants reached 881 220, an increase of 64 % compared with 2021, and the highest since the 2015-2016 peak.

Of those who applied for asylum in the EU in 2022, 384 245 persons were granted protection – 44 % of them were granted refugee status, 31 % subsidiary protection and 25 % humanitarian status. There are also currently nearly 6 million Ukrainians in the EU benefiting from the Temporary Protection Directive.

Alongside the asylum-seekers arriving at EU borders, the Union has set up a system for all EU countries to receive refugees directly from countries outside the EU that are currently hosting large numbers, such as Türkiye, Lebanon and Jordan. This scheme is based largely on EU cooperation with the United Nations Refugee Agency, which helps resettle refugees directly from refugee camps. In 2023, 17 EU Member States pledged more than 29 000 places for resettlement and humanitarian admission.

Read this ‘at a glance’ note on ‘World Refugee Day 2023‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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