The number of registered refugees has reached a record high, with an estimated 25.9 million refugees and asylum seekers. Of these, one third are Syrian. Since 2011, more than 5.5 million Syrians have fled the country and 6.1 million have been internally displaced.
As people undertake these so-called ‘irregular’ journeys in an effort to find safety and security where they have the opportunity to create their own pathways from poverty to prosperity, they are remarkably vulnerable. They are at risk of facing exploitation at the hands of human traffickers and worse still, becoming trapped in a world of modern slavery and sexual exploitation from which they are unable to escape. They are unprotected, accumulate debt, and have no legal recourse.
There is no doubt this phenomenon requires an urgent response. Although migration has been a feature of political debate in West European states, their share of immigrants as a percent of their native-born population is considerably smaller than elsewhere. In the case of Syria, it has been its neighbours which have borne the brunt of the crisis. There are 3.3 million registered Syrian refugees in Turkey, one million in Lebanon, and 650,000 in Jordan.
The UK has a proud history of being generous and open-minded towards refugees. At Legatum Institute, we believe that all people, regardless of whether they feature in migration, refugee or trafficking statistics should have the opportunity to create their own pathway to prosperity, able to fulfil their vast potential in a safe and secure environment.
Read about our Global People Movements programme.