Migration and displacement

Migration and displacement pose some of the biggest humanitarian challenges of our time. Our work supporting people on the move focuses on saving lives and preventing suffering. We also help people cope with the risks and challenges of migration and work to protect and restore their dignity.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has a long history of providing humanitarian aid and protection for migrants and displaced people.

Across the globe, people who migrate or are displaced from their homes face unacceptable risks. Too often they are denied the humanitarian assistance and protection they need to ensure their safety, dignity and rights.

We work with and for asylum seekers, refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), migrant workers, stateless persons and others. We provide assistance wherever they are on their journeys, regardless of their legal status and based solely on humanitarian need.

Every year our 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies assist millions of migrants and displaced people:

  • We provide essential services to meet the humanitarian needs of people along major migratory routes and in displaced communities
  • We support durable solutions, including for people displaced by the effects of disasters and the impacts of climate change
  • We advocate for migrants’ needs, rights, safety and unhindered access to essential services
  • We engage with local and national authorities and run projects within host communities to promote understanding, interaction and social inclusion
  • We help migrants and displaced people rebuild their lives and livelihoods


Key facts and figures

More than 280 million international migrants

48.1% are female and around 15% are under 20 years old.

Source: UNDESA Migration Data Porta 2020

More than 80 million forcibly displaced people

Of these people, 26 million are refugees and 4.2 million are asylum seekers.

Source: UNHCR and Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) 2020


24 million people displaced by disasters every year

Extreme weather events such as floods, storms and earthquakes devastate communities and often lead to long-term displacement.

Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) / Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) 2019

Why do people move?

A mother holds her daughter in a camp for internally-displaced persons in Koneba, Ethiopia

A mother holds her daughter in a camp for internally-displaced persons in Koneba, Ethiopia

Photo: IFRC/Johannes Chinchilla

People move for different reasons. Some move voluntarily for work, for education, to reunite with family members or simply to explore new countries and cultures.

Others are forced to flee their homes and countries due to:

  • Conflict and violence
  • Crises and emergencies
  • Persecution and human rights violations
  • Poverty and joblessness
  • Lack of basic services
  • Food insecurity
  • Disasters and the effects of climate change

The most vulnerable are often fleeing a combination of these factors.

Related documents


pdf (16.07 MB)

Humanitarian assistance and protection for people on the move

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Locked down and left out? Why access to basic services for migran...

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Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) Monthly Report: January 2021

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