The world is undergoing a dramatic, perhaps unprecedented migrant crisis. All around the globe, people are fleeing war zones, persecutions, or economic instability in search of a better life. They are undertaking perilous journeys and many are dying in huge numbers. Those that make it to their destination often face anxious, sometimes even outright hostile hosts.
The scale of what's happening can't be underestimated. Nor can the permanent effect that this migrant crisis may leave on the world. In fact, it's almost impossible to fully describe the situation – it's too complicated, and too global.
Saturday is World Refugee Day, so WorldViews has compiled 17 examples of how the migrant crisis is reshaping the world. It's incomplete, but offers just a glimpse of the dramatic changes taking place.
1. The number of people displaced from their homes around the world in 2014 was almost as big as the population of Britain.
A report released by the United Nations this week found that around 60 million people – whether they were refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced – formed a global "nation of the displaced" in 2014. The population of Britain is around 65 million.
If the "nation of the displaced" were a country it would be the 24th biggest in the world.
2. The proportion of the world who have been displaced is growing.
As Jay Ulfelder, a political scientist, has noted over at his blog Dart Throwing Chimp, the U.N. numbers aren't just a result of the world's growing population: As a proportion of the world's population, more and more people are being forcibly displaced.
"After holding more or less steady for at least six years, the share of world population forcibly displaced by war has increased by more than 50 percent in just two years, from about one of every 200 people to 1 of every 133 people," Ulfelder writes.
Worse still, "reports from field workers indicate that this problem only continues to grow in 2015."
3. More than half of all refugees in 2014 were children.
According to the latest UNHCR report, almost 51 percent of the world's refugees in 2014 were below 18 years old. That is the highest number in more than a decade.
4. And one in five of all displaced people around the world in 2014 were Syrian.
5. Many of the world's displaced people may never go home.
In 2014, just 126,800 refugees were able to return to their home countries, the lowest number for 31 years. pic.twitter.com/EMBIkqTioq— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency 🧡 (@Refugees) June 18, 2015
6. In the small African nation of Gambia, at least 4 percent of the population is now living abroad. Around 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product now comes from remittances, according to World Bank figures.
7. Over 2.6 million refugees from Afghanistan have been living outside of their home country for more than three decades. It is unclear if or when they will return.
According to UNHCR, over 5.8 million Afghan refugees have returned home since 2002. However, the numbers are slowing and they hit an all time low in 2014. Many complain of Afghanistan's continuing security problems and the economic troubles in the country.
At present, the vast majority of these refugees live in Pakistan and Iran.
8. Right now, over one fifth of Lebanon's population are refugees.
The makeup of Lebanon, a country which borders both Syria and the Palestinian territories, has been fundamentally changed by the migrant crisis. In 2014, the country had 232 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants; more than anywhere else in the world. With an expected refugee population of 1.3 million by the start of 2015, more than one fifth of the country is now a refugee.
That clearly has major implications for life in Lebanon and the country installed a harsher new entry rules for refugees a few months ago.
9. Turkey has the largest number of refugees of any country in the world.
There are currently estimated to be around 2 million refugees in Turkey, a larger number than anywhere else in the world. The vast majority of these people are Syrians who have fled the country next door.
UNHCR has said that the world needs to do more to help the country. "Turkey has been, to a certain extent, left alone," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News this week. "We need more resettlement opportunities, more humanitarian missions, more legal avenues to bring over refugees perhaps to Europe."
10. In Greece, islands that are better known as holiday destinations have become major centers for migrants and refugees.
According to Medecins Sans Frontieres, more than 46,000 refugees have arrived in Greek islands by sea since the start of 2015. While the British tabloid press has focused on the impact this is having on holidaymakers ("We won't be coming back if it’s like a refugee camp again next year," one disgruntled tourist said), the wider impact is far worse. These islands are simply not equipped to deal with the influx and it has negative impacts for both locals and migrants.
“Every day in Lesbos, [it’s like] a new village is born,” Spryos Galinos, the mayor of the island of Lesbos, told the Associated Press recently. “The numbers overwhelm us.”
11. 1.7 million individuals submitted applications for asylum in 2014.
Refugees and migrants can often apply for political asylum in their new country if they prove they would face persecution in their home country.
In 2014, almost 1.7 million people applied for asylum. The countries that saw the most applicants were Russia (274,700) Germany (173,100) United States of America (121,200), Turkey (87,800), and Sweden (75,100). Russia's large number of applicants was attributed to the chaos in Ukraine: According to the UNHCR, approximately 99 percent of claims to Russia came from Ukrainians.
12. However, growing numbers of people in Europe are clear that they want less immigration, not more.
13. All across Europe anti-immigration political parties are making gains.
A combination between rising numbers of migrants and shrinking political will to accommodate these migrants has helped lead to the rise or resurgence in a number of populist anti-immigrant parties across Europe.
As Cas Munde, an assistant professor in the School for Public and International Policy at the University of Georgia, put it in the Monkey Cage blog last year:
Playing to nativist stereotypes, [these parties] argue that elitist and wasteful Eurocrats force “us” to pay money to the corrupt and lazy “them.” On top of that, they present the image of “our nation” being threatened by criminal immigrants from South and Eastern Europe
Just this week, Denmark's center left government was forced out by a coalition that included the Danish People's Party, an anti-immigration party, which is now Denmark's second largest political group.
14. Europe is literally building walls to keep migrants out.
Hungary recently came under international criticism when it announced its intention to build a 13-foot-fence along its 109-mile border with Serbia. However, it wouldn't be the first fence to be built recently to keep migrants out of Europe. Fences already exist at the borders of E.U. member states Greece and Bulgaria that meet Turkey, a non E.U. state, and surround some Spanish enclaves in North Africa.
15. Meanwhile, at least 1,868 migrants are believed to have died crossing the Mediterranean by boat in 2015.
That's a dramatic increase over 2014, when 448 are believed to have died, according to the International Organization for Migration. Over 100,000 migrants are believed to have made the journey so far this year.
16. Thousands of migrants have ended up stranded in Southeast Asian waters for months.
One of the most shared images on Thai Twitter in the past 24hrs— Stickboy Bangkok (@StickboyBangkok) May 17, 2015
Via @SaraUpdate pic.twitter.com/rAYjmbOAYV
In May, experts estimated that as many as 20,000 Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants were stranded at sea in the Bay of Bengal. These migrants had paid human traffickers large sums of money to make arduous journeys to places like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, but many found themselves turned away.
"If I had known the boat journey would be so horrendous," one 19-year-old Rohingya refugee whose brother had been lost at sea told the Guardian, "I would rather have just died in Burma."
17. United Nations requests for aid have gone up 500 percent in the past decade.
Thanks to the world's migrant crisis and a variety of other problems around the world, more and more people need aid. In fact, U.N. appeals for aid have gone up almost 500 percent over the past decade, though only 26 percent of the money needed has been received, according to one recent report.
One U.N. insider told the Guardian that the situation was “apocalyptic” and some, such as Oxfam, are suggesting that United Nations member states should be required to make mandatory payments.