What is a Refugee?

  • A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. 

  • A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. 

  • Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries (UNHCR).

United Nations Refugee Convention (1951)  
  • Legally defined the term "refugee"

  • Created in response to large populations fleeing Eastern Europe after World War II

  • Clearly spells out the legal protection, assistance and social rights that refugees should receive from nations that agreed to and signed this agreement

  • Each minute, 24 people are forced to leave their homeland due to war, persecution or terror   (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)

Who is NOT a Refugee?


  • Forced to leave home due to threat of persecution

  • Cannot return home safely

Economic Migrant:

  • Leaves home voluntarily to seek a better life

  • Can voluntarily choose to return home

  • If return home, will receive protection by own government

Refugee Resources