Refugee Terminology 101
We all know the outs – and definitely the ins – of an ice cream tub, but we wanted to take some time to break down a more complex, and far more important, issue.
To help understand the refugee crisis, it’s critical to know the key terms – so let’s start there. Here we’ll dive into some words that have become commonplace, but who wants to be the one in the group to have to ask what they are? Never fear, we’ve got you covered! We’ve broken down these terms and why they matter:
The Basics: The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) defines refugees as persons forced to flee their country because of war, conflict or persecution. Refugees are recognised and protected under international law.
Why It Matters: According to the latest UNHCR figures, there are a staggering 22.5 million refugees across the globe and each of them will spend an average of 10 years away from home.
The Basics: Refugee camps are temporary shelters built to accommodate and safeguard refugees and asylum seekers.
Why It Matters: Although temporary in principle, many refugee camps have been there for many years and have reached enormous sizes. Kenya's Kakuma camp houses over 142,000 people, making governance and management extremely important.
Internally Displaced People (IDPs)
The Basics: IDPs are people who have been displaced within their own country. Many of them are fleeing for the very same reasons as refugees but because they remain in their home countries they lack refugee status.
Why It Matters: The lack of refugee status, and its associated support and legal protection, means IDPs are among the most marginalised and vulnerable people on earth. Of the world's 65.6 million (1 in every 113) forcibly displaced people, over 60% of them are IDPs. Syria alone had 6.3 million IDPs in 2016.
The Basics: ‘Asylum’ is the legal protection granted to anyone fleeing their home country on grounds of persecution due to race, religion, nationaility or political beliefs. In other words, an asylum seeker is a person awaiting refugee status and protection.
Why it Matters: Right now, there are 2.8 million asylum seekers, and their rights and critically important. The EU recieved almost 1.3 million applications from asylum seekers in 2016 alone!
The Basics: Resettlement offers refugees the chane to find long-lasting sanctuary and rebuild their lives. The process is often managed by UNHCR, who identifies the most vulnerable refugees in their current country of refuge and offers them a safe route to permanent protection, for example in Europe.
Why it Matters: The receiving country has the final say on who to admit and once refugees arrive, local authorities and community groups mobilise to support their integration, including by helping them to learn the local language, find work, and find schools for their children.
The Basics: This is the return or expulsion of people to a country where their lives of freedom may be at risk. Given the inherent plight of being a refugee, this is about as bad as it gets. The terms comes from the French verb refouler, which means 'to force back'.
Why it Matters: Refugees and asylum seekers are forced to flee because of the unsafe conditions at home. Sending them back could have devastating consequences for their safety, their health and even their lives.
Thus concludes our crash course in refugee terminology. Now that you’re fully up to speed with all the jargon, be sure to learn more and join the fight for refugees, here!
Learn more about our campaign and join the fight for refugees here!