Who is a Refugee?

A refugee is a person who has been forced to flee his or her homeland due to persecution or fear of persecution, war, or civil conflict. An individual’s or groups' race, religion, ethnicity, or nationality might face suppression or attack, forcing entire communities to evacuate a country, without time to prepare.

Often, refugees flee into neighboring countries, where they have no legal status and are forced to remain in refugee camps or take underpaid, un-regulated jobs in urban settings.

The United Nations first created an official definition for the word “refugee” in the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Currently there are 14 million men, women, and children who have fled conflict and violence and now survive with no official home or sustainable source of support. Of these, only a small percentage gets resettled to a third country; in 2007, this number was 71,700 people. Of this, the United States resettled the largest number of people.

According to the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is 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 their nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country.