Does Australia take the most refugees? > Check the facts

Who: “We take more refugees per head of Australian population than any other nation in the world. We take either the second or third most in absolute terms, depending on how you calibrate your calculation” Chris Bowen.

The claim: Australia takes the most refugees per capita and takes the second or third most in absolute terms.

The facts: The  UNHCR Global Trends Report 2010 shows that Australia took one refugee per 1, 000 population and ranked 69th in the world for per capita refugee intake. 2012 UNHCR figures for absolute refugee intake show that Australia took nearly 30,000 refugees and ranked 49th in the world.

Discussion of evidence: The country that takes the most refugees per head of population is Jordan, with 72.9 refugees per 1,000 people. The table below shows Australia’s per capita refugee intake compared to the top 5 countries.

Rank Country Refugees per 1,000 population (2010)
1 Jordan 72.9
2 Syrian Arab Rep. 49.3
3 Congo, Rep. of 32.9
4 Chad 31
5 Montenegro 25.9
69 Australia 1

The country with the largest absolute refugee intake is Pakistan with more than 1.6 million refugees. The table below compares Australia’s refugee intake compared to the top 5 countries.

Rank Country Refugees (up to 2012)
1 Pakistan 1,638,447
2 Iran (Islamic Republic of) 868,239
3 Germany 589,680
4 Kenya 564,906
5 Syrian Arab Republic 476,481
49 Australia 29,996

Australia’s world rankings for refugee intake are very different to those claimed Chris Bowen. However, Australia does rank highly in the resettlement of refugees. Resettlement is a scheme whereby a third country takes refugees who cannot be safely settled in the country they originally sought asylum. In 2012, less than one per cent of refugees were re-settled. Most countries do not have official resettlement programs and in 2012 only 27 countries resettled refugees. According to the Refugee Council of Australia, Australia ranked second in 2012 for the resettlement of refugees per capita (0.267 refugees per 1,000 population) beaten only by Canada (0.283 per 1,000). In absolute terms the top three resettlement countries were America (66,300), Canada (9,600) and Australia (5,900).

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