Afghanistan second-largest refugee group after Syria

(Last Updated On: September 18, 2015)


Until last year, Afghans were the largest global refugee population at 2.6 million people – almost 10 percent of the country’s entire population.

Today, estimated at 12 percent, they Afghans ranked as the second largest group after Syrians to have reached European shores and borders.

According to the United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, more than 40,000 Afghans have sought asylum in Europe from January until August this year.

Today an estimated 2.6 million Afghan remain in exile- mainly hosted by Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Pakistan is the second largest refugee-hosting country in the world, hosting around 1.5 million Afghan refugees, a figure that accounts for 10.5 per cent of the total global refugee population. Iran hosts around 950,000 Afghan refugees.


Although tragedies that have befallen Afghan refugees for decades have not made the headlines in Western media, many have died dreadful deaths or have endured untold hardships.

Many families are still waiting to hear news of loved ones that have simply vanished en route to a better life.

While the dire security situation prompts many Afghans to risk everything, others flee because of the country’s economic stagnation and staggering unemployment rates.

“Migrations do not occur arbitrary, due to lots of pressure, escaping from investment, work and brain drain are the main reason,” Sayed Masoud, Afghan economic analyst said.

Unemployment has reached record heights. Domestic and foreign investments have halted, and the flight of capital is becoming a critical issue. Projects attached to international aid – one of the largest sources of employment in the past decade – have, for the most part, shut down or been placed in hibernation.


Meanwhile, a number of Wolesi Jirga members accept problems of Afghan youths in the country but urged all of them that instead of escaping the country they should use the power of their initiative.

Germany and other Western states may show generosity in accepting refugees, but unless the world revamps the Afghan economy and seriously engages in the restoration of security, the brain drain will gravely reverse the trillion-dollar global effort in rehabilitating and stabilising Afghanistan.

Deteriorating security and growing fears for the future contributed to an increasing number of Afghans fleeing their homes for other countries, or choosing not to return home from overseas.

The number of Afghans seeking safety outside the country also grew, with some making dangerous journeys from Afghanistan through the mountains into Iran toward Europe or by boat to Australia. The number of refugees returning to Afghanistan from neighboring countries has fallen in recent years.


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