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How many refugees are there?

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) tells us there were 42 million people worldwide uprooted from their homes at the end of 2009. This includes 16 million refugees and asylum seekers together with 26 million people who were displaced (made homeless) in their own countries. For these people, 80% of which are in developing nations like Britain, there seems little hope of ever returning home.

How many refugees are there in the UK?

The UK is currently home to about 2% of the world's total number of refugees and asylum seekers (about 320,000 people).

How many are children?

In 2003, the Refugee Council estimated that there were almost 99,000 refugee children between the ages of 5-16 in the UK.

Where do refugees live in the UK?

Outside London refugee populations are smaller but refugees do live in almost every town and city in Britain.

How do refugees cope with learning English?

It can be a real challenge for both young and old to learn a new language. However, it is more often young people who find it easier once they are attending school and in regular contact with English-speaking friends. This means that they might have to help out their older relatives in day-to-day tasks. This film shows some young refugees who have recently arrived in Britain discussing the language barriers they experienced:

How do refugees find work?

It is only after an asylum claim has been accepted that refugees of working age are able to work in Britain. While looking for work, refugees can access the same benefits as British citizens, including Job-Seekers Allowance. However, refugees may find that applying for a job in the UK is a difficult and unfamiliar process. Organisations such as the mentoring scheme 'Time Together' help refugees and asylum seekers integrate better and get employment.

According to the Refuge Council almost a third of refugees have contributed to society by doing voluntary work since arriving in the UK, and many refugees have academic or teaching qualifications. There are more than 1,500 refugee teachers in England and more than 1,100 medically qualified refugees are recorded on the British Medical Association's database.

How do refugee children cope with starting a new school?

Refugee children have the same rights to go to school as any other child in the UK. Many refugee children need some extra help when they first arrive as some of them need to learn English. Some are given a teaching assistant to sit with them during classes and others will go to special classes to get additional help. This means that refugee children starting at a new school need a very warm welcome from their classmates. Some schools have set up 'befriending projects'; other schools have made welcome leaflets or started clubs for children new to their school.

Find Out More on the Web:

The Refugee Council

Refugee Week UK

UNHCR: The United Nations Refugee Agency

Human Rights: Amnesty International Advice and help for those detained under immigration laws in the UK

Children's Rights

Save the Children

Oxfam Education

Schools Against Deportations

Famous Refugees

Refugee Awareness Project

One World

Newsround Extra: Asylum Day: CBBC information about asylum seekers

From Casablanca to Calais: Exile on Celluloid: Highlights from a recent on-stage discussion at BFI Southbank about the portrayal of refugees on screen, to mark Refugee Week 2010.

In books:

Zephaniah, Benjamin (2001) Refugee Boy

Ashley, Bernard (1999) Little Soldier

Hicyilmatz, Gaye (2000) Girl in Red

Laird, Elizabeth (1991) Kiss the Dust

Naidoo, Beverley (2000) The Other Side of Truth

Taylor, Marilyn (1999) Faraway Home