The plight of refugees is not new. As long as man has inhabited the earth there have been people forced to flee their homelands and travel great distances to find safety and refuge. These are refugees.
What is a refugee?
The 1951 UN Convention on Refugees states that a refugee is a person who is “outside their own country and cannot return due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Because of conditions in their home country and their fear of persecution, they are unwilling or unable to return.”
What is an asylum seeker?
This is a term used to cover all people who apply for protection or refugee status. The UN Convention specifically recognises that a refugee may sometimes have to enter the country against the provisions of national immigration laws. An asylum seeker is an individual who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualized procedures, an asylum seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which he or she submitted it. Not every asylum seeker will ultimately be recognised as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylum seeker.’
How big is the need?
According the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), at the end of 2015 there were an estimated 65.3 million forcibly displaced people in the world. This is nearly triple the population of Australia today. Phrased differently, that is one in every 113 people in the world. These people make up the largest category of vulnerable people in the world.
About one third of them are officially recognized refugees because they have crossed an international border. The other two thirds are called internally displaced persons, or IDPs, because they are still within their own country. Four fifths of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing nations. The need for places of safety and security grows each year, as millions of people are forceably displaced annually.
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