Mission: To present a narrative, temporal map of refugee migrations since 1975 using UN data complemented by original histories of the major refugee crises of the last four decades.
Background: The Refugee Project synthesizes data gathered by the United Nations to visually narrate the forced migrations of refugees around the world since 1975. In that year, there were approximately 3.5 million documented refugees worldwide, while, as of 2016, more than 20 million refugees were registered with the UN globally. Through the offices of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) — whose mandate is to try to assist all stateless and displaced people, not just "refugees" as defined under international law — and a separate agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), the UN has been tracking displaced people as part of its larger task of safeguarding their lives and rights. Although the UN is responsible for providing protection to those seeking asylum "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion," many refugees still fall outside this definition and are not represented on the map. The project excludes, for example, those who have been internally displaced, who have become refugees due to a natural disaster, or who are economic migrants.
Outstanding Web Features: Key features of the site include the ability to compare refugee population by country using a circle indicator that shows how many of each country’s citizens are living abroad as refugees and increases in size when a country experiences war, turmoil, famine, or repression, causing people to flee, or gets smaller when a country's internal situation stabilizes, allowing previously displaced persons to return home. The map also allows visitors to toggle between a visualization showing the total number of refugees from a country living abroad in a given year or that country’s refugee population as a percentage of its total population; explore where each country’s refugees have found asylum by viewing lines that radiate out from each refugee-producing country to the countries where its refugee nationals have found asylum; explore a heatmap that shows refugee volumes globally over time or for individual countries; and read about natural and man-made disasters that have served as catalysts for refugee crises over the last forty years.