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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Refugees: EU humanitarian aid to those forced to flee

In 2022, a staggering 108.4 million people were forced to flee their home. 35.3 million of them were refugees. They flee conflict, violence, human rights violations. They escape from persecution, disasters, and the impacts of climate change. They want safety and a better future.

But these are not just numbers. Behind these figures, there are real faces. People just like you. There are teachers, nurses, engineers, artists, or students. Older people and children. On World Refugee Day, we put the spotlight on their stories and how the EU’s humanitarian aid is supporting them.

Students peek through the window of a classroom
Students peek through the window of a classroom in Zaatari refugee camp, where the EU funds training and coaching to schoolteachers and principals
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Rajiv Raman)

The number of forcibly displaced people, including refugees, continue to rise every day.

35.3 million
people were refugees in 2022
2/3 of refugees
live in poverty
52% of refugees
come from only 3 countries: Syria, Ukraine, and Afghanistan

The EU is the leading international donor in situations of forced displacement.

What’s a refugee?

To fully understand these numbers, it is crucial to know the difference between a refugee, an asylum seeker, a migrant, and an internally displaced person.

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    Someone fleeing armed conflict, persecution or a direct threat or death.

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    Asylum seeker

    Someone who is seeking protection, but has not received a final decision on their refugee claim.

  • graph

    Someone who moves for work, education, family reunion, or other reasons.

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    Internally displaced person

    Someone who is forced to leave their home but who remains within their country’s borders.

The faces behind the numbers

The EU wants to shine a spotlight on the stories of refugees. Because, beyond the numbers, there are people with unwavering determination, bravery, and remarkable talent.

  • Wajeeh posing proudly in front of his academic certificates.
    Wajeeh from Syria

    Wajeeh, a Syrian refugee, enrolled in multiple courses to expand his skillset when he settled in Jordan. The EU’s humanitarian aid helped him obtain legal documents to stay and send his children to school. With strong resilience and a thirst for knowledge, he managed to start a mushroom business.

    “I hold a doctorate from the University of Damascus. In Syria, I worked in both academia and trade. I began to develop my project and spread the word. In a year, we were able to market the idea across the city.”


  • Lyudmilla sitting in the kitchen.
    Lyudmilla from Ukraine

    Forced to flee her home in Mykolaiv, Lyudmilla and her 7-year-old daughter Irina found refuge in Moldova. Despite the warm welcome they received, she longs to one day return to Ukraine. Through cash assistance, the EU supports families in Moldova hosting refugees like her.

    “I have never experienced this kind of pain. But it also changed my values and thought me to how appreciate life.”


  • Nelofar sitting in front of a mural drawing
    Nelofar from Afghanistan

    Nelofar lives in Istanbul with her husband and 5 children. Fearing persecution in their home country Afghanistan, she was forced to flee to Türkiye together with her family. EU humanitarian funding helped her tackle the challenges she encountered.

    “I was working as an English teacher and was a well-respected member of my community. I miss the times where I could provide for my family.”


A day in the life of a refugee

Zaatari is the world’s largest camp for Syrian refugees and hosts nearly 81,000 people. Half of them are women, many of whom in need of protection and psychological support.

Fadwa is one of them. She has been living in the camp for 10 years. During this time, the camp has gone through changes that impacted the living conditions of refugees. Follow her throughout a day in the Zaatari camp and learn what the EU is doing to support refugees there.

Discover more stories