Quetelet Conference 2017: The demography of refugees and displaced populations
Population displacement has reached unprecedented levels globally. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that in 2015, more than 65 million people, or one person in 113, were forcibly displaced by conflict, persecution, violence or human rights violations. Two-thirds (62%) of these 65 million people were internally displaced, one-third were refugees (21.3 million) and 5% were asylum-seekers whose proceedings were ongoing (3.2 million). This global movement concerns almost all regions and territories, but the intensity of flows and reception conditions vary considerably throughout the world. A large majority of refugees are hosted in developing countries (86% of people of concern to UNHCR). Asia has the largest number of internally displaced persons (29.4 million), with large numbers of internally displaced persons in Syria and Iraq and many refugees in Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan and Iran. In Western countries, the number of refugees hosted remains modest, even though refugee populations occupy an important place in public opinion and the debates that animate the political agenda. Recent political changes in the United States or in some European Union countries suggest that access conditions will continue to narrow and border controls will tighten in the coming years.
In this context, demographers and social scientists have a role to play, in particular by estimating the flows of displaced populations, by studying the life trajectories of these displaced persons and by improving the quality and comparability of statistics on displaced populations. In some countries, such as Belgium, there are rich administrative databases to monitor the administrative procedures of refugees. In other countries, available estimates of the numbers and characteristics of displaced persons remain based on partial registration-type data from government or NGOs, census data or surveys. Overall, beyond the mere measurement of stocks and population flows, few analyses specifically address the demographic behaviour of refugees and displaced persons.
The 2017 Quetelet Conference will be devoted to analysing the flows and demographic behaviours of refugee and displaced populations. Communications can focus on theoretical or methodological issues (sources and quality of data, innovative sampling and analytical approaches). They may be comparative or focus on a specific region, country, or community, and be based on both quantitative and qualitative approaches.