Immigration and refugee law

Topics: Refugee, Internally displaced person, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Pages: 8 (3123 words) Published: April 26, 2014


1) Introduction

Today we are going to talk about refugees, refugee law and all the issues related to refugees. A refugee is a person who is outside his or her country of origin or habitual residence because they have suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, because of being a member of a persecuted 'social group' or because they are fleeing a war. Such a person may be called an 'asylum seeker' until recognized by the state where they make a claim. Although similar and frequently confused with refugees, Internally displaced persons have a different legal definition and are essentially refugees who have not crossed any international border. At the end of 2012 the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that there were 15.4 million refugees worldwide. By contrast there were 28.8 million (about twice as many) IDPs at the end of 2012. To start, we are going to give you a little inside on the history of the refugee issue, followed by information about refugee offices and organisations. The different reasons for refugee crisis are going to be another point discussed. We are then going to give you a few current examples of refugee migrations. Last but not least, we are going to give you information on the refugee absorption solutions.

2) Definition

The 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees has adopted the following definition of a refugee: "Any person 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". The concept of a refugee was expanded by the Convention's 1967 Protocol and by regional conventions in Africa and Latin America to include people who had fled war or other violence in their home country. European Union's minimum standards definition of a refugee essentially reproduces the definition of refugee offered by the UN 1951 Convention. The term refugee is often used to include displaced persons who may fall outside the legal definition in the Convention, either because they have left their home countries because of war and not because of a fear of persecution, or because they have been forced to migrate within their home countries. Refugees were defined as a legal group in response to the large numbers of people fleeing Eastern Europe following World War II. In 2012 Afghanistan was the biggest source country of refugees (a position it has held for 32 years) with one out of every four refugees being an Afghan and with 95% living in Pakistan or Iran.

3) History

The idea that a person who sought sanctuary in a holy place couldn't be harmed without inviting divine retribution was familiar to the ancient Greeks and ancient Egyptians. However, the right to seek asylum in a church or other holy place was first codified in law by King Ethelbert of Kent in about 600 AD. Similar laws were implemented throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. It was not until the advent of romantic nationalism in late 18th-century Europe that nationalism gained sufficient prevalence for people crossing borders to be required to provide identification. The term "refugee" was completely defined after the 1951 Geneva Convention. Now the term refugee is a well-defined term and distinct from an internally or nationally displaced persons. The people who fled from Europe after World war II were termed refugees, along with those from Africa, following the civil wars, from the middle east, Bangladesh and many other nations. The greatest source countries for refugees are Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Sudan, and the Palestinian territories


The lead international agency coordinating refugee protection is the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It was...
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