Skip to main content

Refugees in South Asia

Refugees in South Asia

While refugees in South Asian countries nowhere constitute a cohesive social group (with the possible exception of some groups from Afghanistan in western Pakistan), they are so numerous at the present time (1991) that an outline of their demography is appropriate in this volume. Three South Asian countries hold a total of about 4,085,800 refugees today, of whom only 293,000 are native to the region. Most do not live in formal refugee camps, but many do benefit, if only a little, from funds that have been funneled to them from Western nations and food provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The countries of origin of refugees, estimates of their Current numbers in each host country, and the main reason for their flight to that country are listed in the following table.

Host Country Origin Number Reason for Flight
India Sri Lanka 228,000 civil war between Sinhalese and secessionist Tamils
India Tibet (China) 100,000 repression of Tibetan culture and religion by occupying Chinese forces
India Bangladesh 65,000 mainly Biharis
India Afghanistan 11,100 anticommunist freedom fighters (Mujaheddin)
India Myanmar (Burma) 800 opponents of the military dictatorship
India elsewhere 900  
Nepal Tibet (China) 14,000 repression of Tibetan culture and religion by occupying Chinese forces
Pakistan Afghanistan 3,666,000 anticommunist freedom fighters (Mujaheddin)
Pakistan Iran 1,100 opponents of the fundamentalist Islamic government
Pakistan Iraq 1,700 opponents of the Ba'ath government

To put these figures into perspective, we might add that although South Asia contains 23 percent of the world's population, it currently holds less than 10 percent of the world's refugees. Africa remains the region of biggest refugee movements across national boundaries at this time.

See also Tamil of Sri Lanka


Smyser, W. R. (1991). "New Priorities in Refugee Care." The World and I 6:142-149.


Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Refugees in South Asia." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . 23 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Refugees in South Asia." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . (February 23, 2019).

"Refugees in South Asia." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved February 23, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.