Refugees are persons who have fled their country or been expelled from it and cannot or will not return, because of natural catastrophe, war or military occupation, or fear of religious, racial, or political persecution.
Although refugees have existed throughout human history, the problem has assumed more importance in the 20th century. It is estimated that more than one hundred million persons have left their home country, since the outbreak of World War II. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees, the outstanding world refugee total exceeded twenty-six million in 1996.
Deprived of the protection of their state, often detached from their families and communities of origin, refugees are, by any definition, particularly vulnerable to violence. Refugee women and their children, along with the elderly, are the most vulnerable.
Due to disruptions before, during and after flight (or whatever means of travel), the traditional family structure of many refugees is upset. Husbands, brothers, fathers and sons; who normally contribute to the care and protection of their families; are often absent fighting in wars or seeking better work prospects. Others may have been killed or separated from their families in the excitement of flight. As a consequence, a large number of refugee women find themselves as single heads of households. These women often risk ill treatment and exploitation as they assume the responsibilities of caring, alone, for their families. Their problems are exacerbated when they cannot find any legal form of work. So they turn to prostitution or other illegal activities, in order to support their families. Refugees are also faced with the problem of what country to migrate to. America, being the number one choice of destination, intercepts thousands of refugees every year. When intercepted, these refugees are placed in a detention camp and held until they can be sent back to their country of origin. A detention camp can hold...
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