Every day across the world people make the difficult decision to leave their homes. War, persecution, environmental disaster and poverty are just some of the reasons why a person might have to leave their family, community or country.
Refugees and asylum seekers are not a threat. They are ordinary people who have been forced to leave their homes to escape human rights abuses, such as violence, persecution, torture, or worse. There are many misconceptions about refugees and asylum seekers. These misconceptions are part of the problem that prevents us from seeing permanent changes in policy. Below, read six facts about refugees and asylum seekers to help you set the record straight.
WHO IS A REFUGEE?
Refugees are ordinary people who fled their own countries out of desperation looking for safety and a refuge in a foreign country that can offer them protection. There is always a fear of persecution if they return to their own country.
According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
Before a person’s refugee status is established, the person is referred to as an “asylum seeker”. A refugee status determination (RSD) system facilitates the process when someone is seeking for asylum. If their claims are accepted, they are recognized as a “refugee” and enjoy refugee status, which carries certain rights and obligations according to the legislation of the receiving country. A refugee, however, is different from an economic migrant who may have left their country of origin only in search of a fortune.
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