Recent Refugee Flows


The unfolding events in Libya have had major consequences upon the population. It has been estimated that currently 3 million people have been affected by the conflict, including 218,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 860, 900 people (192,000 Libyans) forced across the border.[1] In May, Italian maritime authorities were conducted a rescue mission for 500 Libyan refugees whose boat had hit rocks just off the coast[2]. The vast majority of Libyan refugees have sought asylum in Europe and Italy in particular, which already received thousands of Tunisian refugees earlier this year.[3] However, as the situation in Tunisia stabilises, the Tunisian government has established refugee camps for Libyan refugees (mostly in Choucha), although many Libyan refugees are opting to return home due to poor conditions[4].


The government’s deadly crackdown on Syrian protestors has induced major refugee flows. Neighbouring states, Lebanon and Turkey have received the majority of refugees fleeing the violence. Turkey has received an estimated 12,000 refugees throughout the conflict[5]. Although Turkey is hosting these refugees in border camps, Turkey is only party to the original 1951 Refugee Convention and thus, only recognises asylum seekers displaced prior to this period.[6] The prospects for resettlement for this refugee population are bleak. In the case of Lebanon, they have received around 5,000 refugees.[7] The Syrian population are not the only group affected; given that Syria was the third top refugee hosting country with around 1 million refugees residing in camps, parts of the existing refugee population have been forced out of the country.[8] Around 5,000 Palestinian refugees have been forced to flee Latakia which has hosted around 10,000.[9]

South Sudan

Following a referendum held earlier in the year, South Sudan formally declared independence from Sudan on the 9th July effectively enforcing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement formulated in 2005.[10] However, the birth of South Sudan has not halted the violence and has not stemmed the flow of refugees. The UNHCR estimated that, thus far, 31,256 have been displaced into neighbouring countries[11]. The complexity of the agreement also places current refugees and IDPs in a precarious situation. There are currently 1 million Southerners residing in the North that are required to either move to South Sudan, which is now a recognised international border or retain their citizenship in the North. Even more ambiguous is the proposition that those wishing to remain in the North may not be offered automatic citizenship. They may have to lodge a claim for asylum citing the threat of persecution in the South; there is a major risk that this population will become stateless.[12]

Danielle McKeen

[1] Humanitarian response Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. 25th August 2011. Libya Dashboard’. (Statistics sourced from UNHCR, IOM, WHO, OCHA)

[2] ABC News. 8 May 2011. 500 Libyan refugees rescued off Italian coast.’

[3] ABC News. 3 March 2011. Libyan crisis could spell ‘disaster’ for Italy’. 

[4] Muscati, S and Kwiram, S. 23 june 2011. Libya’s Forgotten Civilians.Huffington Post. Cited by Human Rights Watch.

[5] International Crisis Group. 1 July 2011. Syria

[6] The 1951 Refugee Convention was originally formulated in response to the displacement caused by Nazi Germany and thus, only responded to the needs of those displaced prior to this period. The Convention was expanded upon with the 1967 Protocol that removed geographical stipulations. Turkey is not party to the subsequent Protocol. See: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 2008. State Parties to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol.

[7] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 30 July 2011. Syrian troops open fire on refugees fleeing to Lebanon.’ 

[8] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. June 2011. Refugee- news’.

[9] BBC News. 15 August 2011. Syria unrest: Palestinians refugees flee camp, says UN.’ 

[10] Arbour, L. 8 July 2011. ‘New Country, Old Problems. International Herald Tribunal. 

[11] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 31 May 2011. Sudan’s Abyei region could see further displacement warns UNHCR’. 

[12] Interview with Dominik Bartsch, the UNHCR Operations Manager for Chad and Sudan. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 11 July 2011. Q and A: displacement scenarios surrounding South Sudan secession.’


1 Comment

Filed under Monthly digest, Refugee flows

One response to “Recent Refugee Flows

  1. Pingback: August 2011 | The Asylum & Refugee Law Project

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