Although Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine started only one month ago, it already sparked one of the most severe refugee crises of the past 60 years with more than four million people fleeing the country in the wake of the continued attacks. As our chart based on data from the UNHCR aggregated by Pew Research Center shows, a majority of the biggest refugee waves of recent years originated in two Asian countries.
The Syrian civil war sits on top of this list with 6.9 million people being forced to leave the country, which amounts to 35 percent of its population. The ongoing war between Bashar Al-Assad's Syrian Arab Republic, which is supported by Iran, Russia and Egypt, and a coalition of parties who would normally be diametrically opposed to one another like Qatar, the United States, Saudia Arabia, Turkey and the United Kingdom has caused 500,000 to 600,000 casualties depending on the source, 160,000 of which were civilians. While Afghanistan comes second in terms of refugees per specific crisis, it has overall been hit the hardest by what has basically been one constant conflict with varying actors for more than 40 years. The Afghan-Soviet war, which lasted from 1979 to 1989, saw the Soviet-backed ruling party People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan fighting loosely organized Islamist rebel groups. These were in no small part financed and trained by the United States, turning it into a de facto Cold War proxy conflict. The following Afghan civil wars, which saw the Taliban joining in 1994 and finally taking power in 1996 with the support of neighboring Pakistan, caused roughly half of the country's population to flee between 1989 and 1996.
Overall, the UNHCR estimates that around 21 million refugees under its mandates were forced to flee their country at the end of 2020, with a further 48 million people being forcibly internally displaced due to military conflicts or other reasons. According to UNHCR data, Turkey hosted the most refugees at the end of 2020 with 3.7 million, followed by Colombia with 1.7 million, Pakistan and Uganda with 1.4. million and Germany with 1.2 million.