Refugee Definition

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution, based on the person’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution and who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries. A refugee, mal slso be reffered to an asylum seeker until granted refugee status. In the United States, a refugee, once admitted, may apply in one year for permanent resident status.

In English, the term refugee derives from the root word refuge, from Old French, meaning "hiding place." It refers to "shelter or protection from danger or distress", from Latin fugere, "to flee", and refugium, " taking [of] refuge, place to flee back to". In Western history, the term was first applied to French Huguenots, after the Edict of Fontainebleau (1540), who again migrated from France after the Edict of Nantes revocation (1685). The word meant "one seeking asylum," until around 1914, when it evolved to mean "one fleeing home", applied in this instance to civilians in Flanders heading west to escape fighting in World War I.

Refugees are often reffered to as forcibly displaced person; this is because the term refugee is used in two different contexts:

  • Refugee refers to a displaced person who flees their home or country of origin; o
  • In a more specific context it refers to a displaced person who has been granted refugee status in the country of asylum.

In between these two stages the person may have been an asylum seeker.

World Refugee Day

In 2000, United Nations General Assembly Resolution created World Refugee Day. It occurs on 20 June, which previously commemorated African Refugee Day in a number of African countries.

In the United Kingdom, World Refugee Day is celebrated as part of Refugee Week. Refugee Week is a nationwide festival designed to promote understanding and to celebrate the cultural contributions of refugees and features many events such as music, dance, and theater.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees was instituted in 1914 by Pope Pius X. It is celebrated each year in January.

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