Why people move

Our reporting – from South Sudan to Venezuela to Myanmar – explains the crises and long-term trends forcing a growing number of people from their homes. 

Every story of migration or displacement begins with an intensely personal drama. Leaving home is a momentous decision, whether a hasty bid to escape death or through the careful balancing of risks and rewards. For some, it is driven by dreams and responsibilities to family or community. For others, it is a desperate bid for survival.

The former are usually called migrants and the latter refugees, even though in real life these categories are often intertwined and fluid. People may flee death to a neighbouring country, for example, but find themselves destitute there and try to move again. Or they leave home to pursue their dreams but are enslaved and tortured along the route, and seek a way out.

Nearly 71 million people are currently displaced by persecution or conflict, including 26 million people who have crossed an international border and become refugees. A far greater number have migrated for more complex reasons; the UN estimates that around 272 million people – 3.5 percent of the global population – are international migrants.

At a glance: Why people migrate



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