According to the 1951
Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is a 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.The concept of a refugee was expanded by the Conventions’ 1967 Protocol and by regional conventions in
Africaand Latin Americato include persons who had fled waror other violencein their home country. A person who is seeking to be recognized as a refugee is an asylum seeker. Refugee was defined as a legal group in response to the large numbers of people fleeing Eastern Europefollowing World War II. The lead international agency coordinating refugee protection is the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR), which counted 8,400,000 refugees worldwide at the beginning of 2006. This was the lowest number since 1980. [http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendoc.htm?tbl=BASICS&id=3b028097c&page=basics#Refugees Refugees by Numbers 2006 edition] , UNHCR] The major exception is the 4,300,000 Palestinian refugees under the authority of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East(UNRWA), who are the only group to be granted refugee status to the descendants of refugees according to the above definition. [ [http://www.un.org/unrwa/publications/index.html Publications/Statistics] , UNRWA, update as of 31 March 2006] The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants gives the world total as 12,019,700 refugees and estimates there are over 34,000,000 displaced by war, including internally displaced persons, who remain within the same national borders. The majority of refugees who leave their country seek asylum in countries neighboring their country of nationality. The "durable solutions" to refugee populations, as defined by UNHCR and governments, are: voluntary repatriation to the country of origin; local integration into the country of asylum; and resettlement to a third country. [ [http://www.unhcr.org/partners/PARTNERS/3f1408764.pdf Framework for Durable Solutions for Refugees and Other Persons of Concern] , UNHCR Core Group on Durable Solutions, May 2003, p. 5]
As of December 31, 2005, the largest source countries of refugees are the Palestinian Territories,
Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, and Sudan. The country with the largest number of IDPs is Sudan, with over 5 million. According to UNHCR estimates, over 4.7 million Iraqis have been displaced since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, with 2.7 million within Iraqand 2 million in neighbouring countries. [http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/iraq?page=briefing&id=4816ef534 UNHCR - Iraq: Latest return survey shows few intending to go home soon] . Published April 29, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2008.] [ [http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2640418.ece UN warns of five million Iraqi refugees] ] [ [http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/07/125F9BB7-46A1-4C2C-904A-F250A09C3393.html Iraq: Refugee Crisis Could Become Regional Security Threat] ] At least 60,000 Iraqis are losing their homes and becoming refugees every month. [ [http://www.indianmuslims.info/news/2007/aug/28/unhcr_says_4_2_million_iraqis_are_displaced_outside_iraq.html UNHCR says 4.2 million Iraqis are displaced in, outside Iraq] ] [ [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/07/23/MNGPCR4S601.DTL&feed=rss.news Refugee crisis in Syria enters new, dire phase / Displaced Iraqis running out of cash, and prices are rising ] ]
The concept of the meaning that a person who fled into a holy place could not be harmed without inviting divine retribution, was understood by 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 Kentin about 600 A.D. Similar laws were implemented throughout Europein the Middle Ages. The related concept of political exilealso has a long history: Ovidwas sent to Tomisand Voltairewas exiled to England. Through the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, nations recognized each others' sovereignty. However, it was not until the advent of romantic nationalismin late eighteenth century Europe that nationalismbecame prevalent enough that the phrase "country of nationality" became meaningful and people crossing borders were required to provide identification.
The term "refugee" is sometimes applied to people who may have fit the definition, if the 1951 Convention was applied retroactively. There are many candidates. For example, after the
Edict of Fontainebleauin 1685 outlawed Protestantismin France, hundreds of thousands of Huguenots fled to England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Denmarkand Prussia. Various groups of people were officially designated refugees beginning in World War I.
The first international coordination on refugee affairs was by the
League of Nations' High Commission for Refugees. The Commission, led by Fridtjof Nansen, was set up in 1921 to assist the approximately 1,500,000 persons who fled the Russian Revolution of 1917and the subsequent civil war (1917–1921), most of them aristocrats fleeing the Communist government. In 1923, the mandate of the Commission was expanded to include the more than one million Armenians who left Turkish Asia Minorin 1915 and 1923 due to a series of events now known as the Armenian Genocide. Over the next several years, the mandate was expanded to include Assyrians and Turkish refugees. [http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1938/nansen-history.html Nansen International Office for Refugee: The Nobel Peace Prize 1938] , nobelprize.org] In all of these cases, a refugee was defined as a person in a group for which the League of Nations had approved a mandate, as opposed to a person to whom a general definition applied.
population exchange between Greece and Turkeyinvolved some two million people, most forcibly made refugees and "de jure" denaturalized from homelands of centuries or millennia, in a treaty promoted and overseen by the international community as part of the Treaty of Lausanne.
In 1930, the Nansen International Office for Refugees was established as a successor agency to the Commission. Its most notable achievement was the
Nansen passport, a passportfor refugees, for which it was awarded the 1938 Nobel Peace Prize. The Nansen Office was plagued by inadequate funding, rising numbers of refugees and the refusal by League members to let the Office assist their own citizens. Regardless, it managed to convince fourteen nations to sign the Refugee Convention of 1933, a weak human rightinstrument, and assist over one million refugees. The rise of Nazismled to such a severe rise in refugees from Germany that in 1933 the League created a High Commission for Refugees Coming from Germany. The mandate of this High Commission was subsequently expanded to include persons from Austriaand Sudetenland. 150,000 Czechswere displaced after October 1, 1938, when the German army entered the border regions of Czechoslovakiasurrendered in accordance with the Munich Agreement. [ [http://www.radio.cz/en/article/46238 Forced displacement of Czech population under Nazis in 1938 and 1943] , Radio Prague] On 31 December 1938, both the Nansen Office and High Commission were dissolved and replaced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees under the Protection of the League. This coincided with the flight of several hundred thousand Spanish Republicans to France after their loss to the Nationalists in 1939 in the Spanish Civil War. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/2809025.stm Spanish Civil War fighters look back] ]
World War II and UNHCR
The conflict and political instability during
World War IIled to massive amounts of forced migration. In 1943, the Allies created the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration(UNRRA) to provide aid to areas liberated from Axis powers, including parts of Europe and China. This included returning over seven million refugees, then commonly referred to as displaced persons or DPs, to their country of origin and setting up displaced persons camps for one million refugees who refused to be repatriated.
After the defeat of Germany in
World War II, the Potsdam Conferenceauthorized the expulsion of the German population from a number of European countries (including Soviet- and Polish-annexed pre-war East Germany), meaning that 12,000,000 ethnic Germans were displaced to the reallocated and divided territory of Allied-occupied Germany. Between the end of World War II and the erection of the Berlin Wallin 1961, more than 563,700 refugees from East Germanytraveled to West Germanyfor asylum from the Soviet occupation.
Also, millions of former Russian citizens were forcefully repatriated (against their will) into the USSR. ["The United States and Forced Repatriation of Soviet Citizens, 1944-47" by Mark Elliott Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 88, No. 2 (Jun., 1973), pp. 253-275] On 11 February 1945, at the conclusion of the
Yalta Conference, the United Statesand United Kingdomsigned a Repatriation Agreement with the USSR. [ [http://www.fff.org/freedom/0895a.asp Repatriation -- The Dark Side of World War II] ] The interpretation of this Agreement resulted in the forcible repatriation of all Soviets regardless of their wishes. When the war ended in May 1945, British and U.S.civilian authorities ordered their military forces in Europe to deport to the Soviet Unionmillions of former residents of the USSR, including numerous persons who had left Russia and established different citizenship many years before. The forced repatriation operations took place from 1945-1947. [ [http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=1988&month=12 Forced Repatriation to the Soviet Union: The Secret Betrayal] ] At the end of the World War II, there were more than 5 million "displaced persons" from the Soviet Union in the Western Europe. About 3 million had been forced laborers ( Ostarbeiters) [ [http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,1757323,00.html Final Compensation Pending for Former Nazi Forced Laborers] ] in Germany and occupied territories. [ [http://summeroftruth.org/enemy/barracks.html Forced Labor at Ford Werke AG during the Second World War] ] [ [http://www.collectinghistory.net/ostarbeiter/index.html The Nazi Ostarbeiter (Eastern Worker) Program] ] The Soviet POWsand the Vlasov men were put under the jurisdiction of SMERSH(Death to Spies). Of the 5.7 million Soviet prisoners of war captured by the Germans, 3.5 million had died while in German captivity by the end of the war. [ [http://www.historynet.com/wars_conflicts/world_war_2/3037296.html Soviet Prisoners of War: Forgotten Nazi Victims of World War II] ] [ [http://www.gendercide.org/case_soviet.html Soviet Prisoners-of-War] ] The survivors on their return to the USSR were treated as traitors (see Order No. 270). [ [http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/H/history/t-z/warlords1stalin.html The warlords: Joseph Stalin] ] [ [http://www.stsg.de/main/zeithain/geschichte/gedenken/index_en.php Remembrance (Zeithain Memorial Grove)] ] Over 1.5 million surviving Red Armysoldiers imprisoned by the Germans were sent to the Gulag. [ [http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/patriots-ignore-greatest-brutality/2007/08/12/1186857342382.html?page=2 Patriots ignore greatest brutality] ] [ [http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/stalin.html Joseph Stalin killer file] ] Polandand Soviet Ukraineconducted population exchanges - Polesthat resided east of the established Poland-Soviet border were deported to Poland (ca. 2,100,000 persons) and Ukrainiansthat resided west of the established Poland-Soviet Union border were deported to Soviet Ukraine. Population transfer to Soviet Ukraine occurred from September 1944 to May 1946 (ca. 450,000 persons). Some Ukrainians (ca. 200,000 persons) left southeast Poland more or less voluntarily (between 1944 and 1945). [ [http://www.migrationeducation.org/13.0.html Forced migration in the 20th century] ]
The UNRRA was shut down in 1949 and its refugee tasks given to the
International Refugee Organization(IRO). [http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/history/A0850078.html "United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration," The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, © 1994, 2000-2005, on Infoplease, © 2000–2006 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease. (accessed 13 October2006)] The International Refugee Organization was a temporary organization of the United Nations(UN), which itself had been founded in 1945, with a mandate to largely finish the UNRRA's work of repatriating or resettling European refugees. It was dissolved in 1952 after resettling about one million refugees." [http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/history/A0825355.html International Refugee Organization %u2014 Infoplease.com."] "The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia", The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, © 1994, 2000-2005, on Infoplease, © 2000–2006 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease. (accessed 13 October 2006)] The definition of a refugee at this time was an individual with either a Nansen passport or a "Certificate of Eligibility" issued by the International Refugee Organization.
Geneva, Switzerland, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) (established December 14, 1950) protects and supports refugees at the request of a government or the United Nationsand assists in their return or resettlement. All refugees in the world are under the UNHCR mandate except Palestinian Arabs who fled the future Jewish state between 1947 and 1948 (see below). However, Palestinians who fled the Palestinian territories after 1948 (for example, during the 1967 six day war) are under the jurisdiction of the UNHCR.
UNHCR provides protection and assistance not only to refugees, but also to other categories of displaced or needy people. These include asylum seekers, refugees who have returned home but still need help in rebuilding their lives, local civilian communities directly affected by the movements of refugees, stateless people and so-called internally displaced people (IDPs). IDPs are civilians who have been forced to flee their homes, but who have not reached a neighboring country and therefore, unlike refugees, are not protected by international law and may find it hard to receive any form of assistance. As the nature of war has changed in the last few decades, with more and more internal conflicts replacing interstate wars, the number of IDPs has increased significantly to an estimated 5 people worldwide.
It succeeded the earlier
International Refugee Organizationand the even earlier United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration(which itself succeeded the League of Nations' Commissions for Refugees).
UNHCR was awarded the
Nobel Peace Prizein 1954 and 1981. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country.
Many celebrities are associated with the agency as
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors, currently including Angelina Jolie, Giorgio Armaniand others. The individual who has raised the most money in benefit performances and volunteer work on behalf of UNHCR was Luciano Pavarotti[http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990DE5D8133CF933A05756C0A9679C8B63&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fSubjects%2fI%2fImmigration%20and%20Refugees] .
UNHCR's mandate has gradually been expanded to include protecting and providing humanitarian assistance to what it describes as other persons "of concern," including internally-displaced persons (IDPs) who would fit the legal definition of a refugee under the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol, the 1969 Organization for African Unity Convention, or some other treaty if they left their country, but who presently remain in their country of origin. UNHCR thus has missions in
Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Serbia and Montenegroand Côte d'Ivoireto assist and provide services to IDPs.
As of January 1, 2006 there are 20,751,900 refugees in the world.Asia - 8,603,600Africa - 5,169,300Europe - 3,666,700Latin America and Caribbean - 2,513,000North America - 716,800Oceania - 82,500
Refugees are a subgroup of the broader category of
displaced persons. Environmental refugees(people displaced because of environmental problems such as drought) are not included in the definition of "refugee" under international law, as well as internally displaced people. According to international refugee law, a refugee is someone who seeks refuge in a foreign country because of war and violence, or out of fear of persecution "on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group" (to use the terminology from U.S. law).
Until a request for refuge has been accepted, the person is referred to as an "asylum seeker". Only after the recognition of the asylum seeker's protection needs, he or she is officially referred to as a refugee and enjoys refugee status, which carries certain rights and obligations according to the legislation of the receiving country.
The practical determination of whether a person is a refugee or not is most often left to certain government agencies within the host country. This can lead to abuse in a country with a very restrictive official
immigration policy; for example, that the country will neither recognize the refugee status of the asylum seekers nor see them as legitimate migrants and treat them as illegal aliens.
On the other hand, fraudulent requests in an environment of lax enforcement could lead to improper classification as refugee, resulting in the diversion of resources from those with a genuine need. The percentage of asylum/refugee seekers who do not meet the international standards of special-needs refugee, and for whom resettlement is deemed proper, varies from country to country. Failed asylum applicants are most often deported, sometimes after imprisonment or detention, as in the United Kingdom.
A claim for asylum may also be made onshore, usually after making an
unauthorized arrival. Some governments are relatively tolerant and accepting of onshore asylum claims; other governments will not only refuse such claims, but may actually arrestor detainthose who attempt to seek asylum.
Non-governmental organizations concerned with refugees and asylum seekers have pointed out difficulties for
displaced persons to seek asylum in industrialized countries. As their immigration policyoften focusses on the fight of irregular migrationand the strengthening of border controls it deters displaced persons from entering territory in which they could lodge an asylum claim. The lack of opportunities to legally access the asylum procedures can force asylum seekers to undertake often expansive and hazardous attempts at illegal entry.
Displaced women and children
An estimated 80% of refugees are women and children. They often carry the heaviest burden of survival for themselves and their families. Women and adolescent girls in refugee settings are especially vulnerable to exploitation, rape, abuse and other forms of gender-based violence.
Children and youth constitute approximately 50 percent of all refugees worldwide. They are the deliberate targets of abuse, and easy prey to military recruitment and abduction. They typically miss out on years of education, particularly the younger ones. More than 43 million children living in conflict-affected areas don’t have a chance to go to school.
Girls in particular face significant obstacles accessing education. Families who lack funds for school fees, uniforms, books, etc. are often influenced by cultural norms to prioritize education for boys over girls. Girls are typically pulled out of school before boys, often to help with traditional care-giving/work roles including care for younger siblings, gathering firewood and cooking. Early or
forced marriagecan also derail a girl’s education.
Without an education, refugee women and youth often struggle to support themselves and their families. With refugees displaced for longer periods of time than ever before (68% of all refugees are now displaced for an average of 17 years), the ability for refugees—particularly women and youth— to earn a living and sustain themselves and their families (“livelihoods”) is becoming even more critical. Livelihoods are vital for the social, emotional and economic well-being of displaced persons and are a key way to increase the safety of displaced women and adolescents. Lack of education, minimal job prospects, and disproportionate responsibility at home all limit the livelihood opportunities of women and youth.
On occasion, people who have been uprooted from their homes come to the United States in search of safe haven. They may be detained by the U.S. government, often until their asylum cases are decided—which can amount to days, weeks, months or even years. Many of those detained are women and children who seek asylum in the United States after fleeing from gender- and age-related persecution. Sometimes the children are alone, having fled abusive families or other human rights abuses. Detained women asylum seekers are also particularly vulnerable to abuse in detention. Women and children asylum seekers who reach the United States are often imprisoned and at times subjected to inhumane conditions, abuse and poor medical care, and denied legal representation and other services.
Refugee advocacy organizations, including the
Women’s Commission For Refugee Women and Children, focus their programs and advocacy specifically on the needs of refugee women, children and youth.
international law, refugees are individuals who:
*are outside their
countryof nationalityor habitual residence;
*have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion; and
*are unable or unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.
Refugee lawencompasses both customary law, peremptory norms, and international legal instruments. These include:
United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees; also referred to as the Geneva Convention;
*The 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees;
* [http://www.africa-union.org/Official_documents/Treaties_%20Conventions_%20Protocols/Refugee_Convention.pdf The 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa]
A refugee camp is a place built by
governments or NGOs (such as the ICRC) to receive refugees. People may stay in these camps, receiving emergency food and medical aid, until it is safe to return to their homes or until they get retrieved by other people outside the camps. In some cases, often after several years, other countries decide it will never be safe to return these people, and they are resettled in "third countries," away from the border they crossed.
However, more often than not, refugees are not resettled.
Camps are the breeding ground for disease, child soldiering, terrorist recruitment, and physical and sexual violence.
Globally, about 17 countries (
Australia, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States[http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/protect?id=3bb2eadd6] ) regularly accept quota refugees from places such as refugee camps. Usually these are people who have escaped war. In recent years, most quota refugees have come from Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Somalia, and Sudan, which have been in various wars and revolutions, and the former Yugoslavia, due to the Yugoslav wars.
Agence France-Presse, Japanaccepted just ten people into the country as refugees in 2003, the lowest number since it let in just one in 1997. Despite denying them refugee status, Japan accepted 16 more people on special humanitarian grounds during the year -- also the lowest figure since 1997, when it accepted three. In contrast, 336 people applied for refugee status in Japan over the year, the highest figure in two years. Various international organizations, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, have asked Japan to accept more refugees. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0WDQ/is_2003_Feb_24/ai_98002254 Japan's refugee policy] ]
United Statestook in 85,010 for resettlement, according to the UNHCR. New Zealandaccepted 1,140 refugees in 1999.
The term "boat people" came into common use in the 1970s with the mass exodus of Vietnamese refugees following the
Vietnam War.It is a widely used form of migration for people migrating from Cuba, Haiti, Morocco, Vietnamor Albania. They often risk their lives on dangerously crude and overcrowded boats to escape oppression or povertyin their home nations. Events resulting from the Vietnam Warled many people in Cambodia, Laos, and especially Vietnamto become refugees in the late 1970s and 1980s. In 2001, 353 asylum seekers sailing from Indonesiato Australiadrowned when their vessel sank.
The main danger to a boat person is that the boat he or she is sailing in may actually be anything that floats and is large enough for passengers. Although such makeshift craft can result in tragedy, in 2003 a small group of 5 Cuban refugees attempted (unsuccessfully, but un-harmed) to reach
Floridain a 1950s pickup truck made buoyant by oil barrels strapped to its sides.
Boat people are frequently a source of controversy in the nation they seek to immigrate to, such as the
United States, Canada, " Italy," Spainand " Australia." Boat people are often forcibly prevented from landing at their destination, such as under Australia's Pacific Solution, or they are subjected to mandatory detentionafter their arrival. Mandatory detention in Australiawill cease, announced by the Rudd Labor government in July 2008, unless the person claiming asylum is deemed to pose a risk to the wider community, such as those who have repeatedly breached their visa conditions or those who have security or health risks. [ [http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/07/29/2317303.htm Sweeping changes to mandatory detention announced: ABC News 29/7/2008] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7530156.stm Australia abandons asylum policy: BBC News 29/7/2008] ]
Historical and contemporary refugee crises
Refugee situations in the Middle East
Following the 1948 proclamation of the
State of Israel, the first Arab-Israeli War began. Many Palestinians had already become refugees, and the Palestinian Exodus(" Nakba") continued through the 1948 Arab-Israeli Warand after the armistice that ended it. The great majority haven't remained refugees for generations as they were not permitted to return to their homes or to settle in the Arab countries where they lived. The refugee situation and the presence of numerous refugee camps continues to be a point of contention in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The final estimate of refugee numbers was 711,000 according to the
United NationsConciliation Commission. Palestinian refugees from 1948 and their descendants do not come under the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, but under the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which created its own criteria for refugee classification. From the [http://www.un.org/unrwa/refugees/whois.html UNRWA web site] :
Palestine refugees are persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. UNRWA's services are availabsuple to all those living in its area of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. UNRWA's definition of a refugee also covers the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948.
As such they are the only refugee population legally defined to include descendants of refugees, as well as others who might otherwise be considered
internally displaced persons.
As of December 2005, the World Refugee Survey of the
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrantsestimates the total number of Palestinian refugees to be 2,966,100.
Between the first and second world wars, Jewish immigration to Palestine was encouraged by the nascent Zionist movement but was severely restricted by the British Mandate government in Palestine. In Europe, Nazi persecution culminated in the
Holocaustand the mass murder of many European Jews.The Evian Conference, Bermuda Conference, and others failed to resolve the problem of finding a home for large numbers of Jewish refugeesfrom Nazi-occupied Europe. Following its formation in 1948, Israel adopted the Law of Return, granting Israeli citizenship to any Jewish immigrant. Approximately 700,000 refugees flooded into the country, and were housed in tent cities called ma'abarot. After the dissolution of the USSR, a second surge of 700,000 Russian Jews fled to Israel between 1990 and 1995.
Jews have lived in what are now Arab states at least since the
Babylonian captivity(597 BCE). The refusal of the Arab world to accept the existence of a Jewish state led to increased discrimination and violence against the Jews. In 1948, the Arab League declared the Jews enemy citizens. Jewish bank accounts and property was confiscated, Jews were arrested and fired from their jobs, and synagogues were attacked. "All I wanted was justice" http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/941518.html] In the early years after Israeli independence the number of Jews in Arab countries fell steeply: in Yemen, from 55,000 to 4,000; in Iraq from 135,000 to 6,000; in Aden from 8,000 to 800; in Egypt from 80,000 to 50,000; in Libya from 38,000 to 4,000; and in Syria from 30,000 to 5,000.
According to official Arab statistics, 856,000 Jews left their homes in Arab countries from 1948 until the early 1970s. Some 600,000 resettled in Israel. Their descendants, and those of Iranian and Turkish Jews, now number 3.06 million of Israel's 5.4 to 5.8 million Jewish citizens. Schwartz, Adi. [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/941518.html "All I wanted was justice"] "
Haaretz". 10 January 2008.] The plight of the Jews in Arab lands worsened following the 1967 Six-Day War, prompting the exodus of most of the remaining Jewish population. Very few Jews live in Arab countries today.
Make clear that the United States Government supports the position that, as an integral part of any comprehensive peace, the issue of refugees and the mass violations of human rights of minorities in Arab and Muslim countries throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf must be resolved in a manner that includes (A) consideration of the legitimate rights of all refugees displaced from Arab and Muslim countries throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf; and (B) recognition of the losses incurred by Jews, Christians, and other minority groups as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict. [http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills&docid=f:sr85is.txt.pdf S. Res. 85]These resolutions were discussed on July 19th 2007 at the bicameral Congressional Human Rights Caucus in preparation for voting.
African refugees in Israel
Since 2003, an estimated 10,000 non-Jewish immigrants from various African countries have illegally entered Israel 1,000 Africans estimated to have infiltrated Israel in 2 weeks, Tani Goldstein, Published: 02.18.08, [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3508142,00.html Ynet news] ] . Some 600 refugees from the
Darfurregion of Sudanhave been granted refugee status. Another 2,000 refugees from the conflict between Eritreaand Ethiopiahave have been granted temporary resident status on humanitarian grounds. Israel prefers not to recognize them as refugees so as not to offend Eritrea and Ethiopia. The remaining immigrants live in Israel illegally. In 2007, Israel deported 48 refugees back to Egypt after they succeeded in crossing the border, of which twenty were deported back to Sudan by Egyptian authorities, according to Amnesty International. In August 2008 the Israel Defense Forces deported at least another 91 African asylum seekers at the border. Throughout this year, Egyptian police have shot dead 20 African asylum seekers attempting to enter Israel. [http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L490874.htm]
Refugees from the Algerian War
Algerian War of Independence(1954-1962) uprooted more than 2 million Algerians, who were forced to relocate in French camps or to flee to Morocco, Tunisia, and into the Algerian hinterland.
European-descended population,"Pieds-Noirs", accounted for 10.4% of the total population of
Algeriain 1962. In just a few months in 1962, 900,000 of them fled the country in the most massive relocation of population to Europe since the World War II. A motto used in the FLN propaganda designating the Pied-noirs community was "Suitcase or coffin" ("La valise ou le cercueil"). [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/11/11/europe/web.1111globalist.php On French immigrants, the words left unsaid] ] [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DEFDE1539F935A35757C0A96E948260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all For Pieds-Noirs, the Anger Endures] ]
It is estimated that some 900,000 people, representing one-fifth of the pre-war population, were displaced from their homes during the
Lebanese Civil War(1975-90). [ [http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=72218 Lebanon: Haven for foreign militants] ]
2006 Lebanon Wardisplaced approximately one million Lebanese [Lebanon Higher Relief Council (2007). [http://www.lebanonundersiege.gov.lb/english/F/Main/index.asp? "Lebanon Under Siege"] . Retrieved March 5, 2007.] and approximately 500,000 Israelis, although most were able to return to their homes. [cite web
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5257128.stm
title = Middle East crisis: Facts and Figures
BBC News Online
accessdate = 2008-07-13] Lebanese desire to emigrate has increased since the war. Over a fifth of
Shias, a quarter of Sunnis, and nearly half of Maronites have expressed the desire to leave Lebanon. Nearly a third of such Maronites have already submitted visa applications to foreign embassies, and another 60,000 Christians have already fled, as of April 2007. Lebanese Christians are concerned that their influence is waning, fear the apparent rise of radical Islam, and worry of potential Sunni-Shia rivalry. [cite news|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/01/wleb01.xml|title=Rise in radical Islam last straw for Lebanon's Christians|author=Michael Hirst|publisher= Daily Telegraph|date=2007-04-03|updated=1:12am BST 12/04/2007]
It is estimated that more than 150,000
Sahrawis- people from the disputed territory of Western Sahara- have lived in five large refugee camps near Tindouf in the Algerian part of the SaharaDesert since 1975. [ [http://www.afrol.com/articles/21380 EU donates €10 million to Western Sahara refugees] ] [ [http://www.umsl.edu/services/govdocs/wofact2005/fields/2194.html Refugees and internally displaced persons] ] The UNHCRand WFPare presently engaged in supporting what they describe as the "90,000 most vulnerable" refugees, giving no estimate for total refugee numbers. [ [http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=74134 Western Sahara: Lack of donor funds threatens humanitarian projects] ]
Nagorno Karabakhconflict has resulted in the displacement of 528,000 (this figure does not include new born children of these IDPs) Azerbaijanisfrom Armenian occupied territories including Nagorno Karabakh, and 220,000 Azeris and 18,000 Kurds fled from Armeniato Azerbaijan from 1988 to 1989. [De Waal, "Black Garden", p. 285] 280,000 persons—virtually all ethnic Armenians—fled Azerbaijanduring the 1988–1993 war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. [ [http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/usazerb/refugees.htm Refugees and displaced persons in Azerbaijan] ]
Between 1984 and 1999, the
PKKand the Turkish military engaged in open war, and much of the countryside in the southeast was depopulated, with Kurdish civilians moving to local defensible centers such as Diyarbakır, Van, and Şırnak, as well as to the cities of western Turkey and even to western Europe. The causes of the depopulation included PKK atrocities against Kurdish clans they could not control, the poverty of the southeast, and the Turkish state's military operations. [Radu, Michael. (2001). "The Rise and Fall of the PKK", "Orbis." 45(1):47-64.] Human Rights Watchhas documented many instances where the Turkish military forcibly evacuated villages, destroying houses and equipment to prevent the return of the inhabitants. An estimated 3,000 Kurdish villages in Turkey were virtually wiped from the map, representing the displacement of more than 378,000 people. [ [http://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/turkey0305/3.htm#_Toc97005223 Turkey: "Still Critical" - Introduction] ] [ [http://hrw.org/reports/2002/turkey/ DISPLACED AND DISREGARDED: Turkey's Failing Village Return Program] ] [ [http://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/turkey0305/ Prospects in 2005 for Internally Displaced Kurds in Turkey] ] [ [http://store.yahoo.com/hrwpubs/tur.html HRW Turkey Reports] "See also:" Report D612, October, 1994, "Forced Displacement of Ethnic Kurds" (A Human Rights Watch Publication).]
Refugees from the Iraq wars
Iran–Iraq Warfrom 1980 to 1988, the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the first Gulf Warand subsequent conflicts all generated hundreds of thousands if not millions of refugees. Iran also provided asylum for 1,400,000 Iraqi refugees who had been uprooted as a result of the Persian Gulf War (1990–91). At least one million Iraqi Kurdswere displaced during the Al-Anfal Campaign(1986-1989).
Iraq warhas generated millions of refugees and internally displaced persons. As of 2007 more Iraqis have lost their homes and become refugees than the population of any other country. Over 4,700,000 people, more than 16% of the Iraqi population, have become uprooted. [ [http://www.unhcr.org/iraq.htmlUNHCR | Iraq] ] Of these, about 2 million have fled Iraq and flooded other countries, and 2.7 million are estimated to be refugees inside Iraq, with nearly 100,000 Iraqis fleeing to Syria and Jordan each month. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/06/20/damon.iraqrefugees/index.html Iraq refugees chased from home, struggle to cope] ] [ [http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2006/11/03/un_nearly_100000_flee_iraq_monthly/ U.N.: 100,000 Iraq refugees flee monthly] . Alexander G. Higgins, " Boston Globe," November 3, 2006] [Anthony Arnove: [http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/IC20Ak01.html Billboarding the Iraq disaster] , " Asia Times" March 20, 2007] Only 1% of the total Iraqi displaced population was estimated to be in the Western countries. [ [http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/iraqi-refugees-facing-desperate-situation-20080615 Iraqi refugees facing desperate situation] , Amnesty International]
Roughly 40% of Iraq's
middle classis believed to have fled, the U.N. said. Most are fleeing systematic persecution and have no desire to return. All kinds of people, from university professors to bakers, have been targeted by militias, insurgentsand criminals. An estimated 331 school teachers were slain in the first four months of 2006, according to Human Rights Watch, and at least 2,000 Iraqi doctors have been killed and 250 kidnapped since the 2003 U.S. invasion. [ [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/01/16/MNG2MNJBIS1.DTL 40% of middle class believed to have fled crumbling nation] ] Iraqi refugees in Syriaand Jordanlive in impoverished communities with little international attentionto their plight and little legal protection. [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/09/asia/refugees.php Iraq's middle class escapes, only to find poverty in Jordan] ] In Syria alone an estimated 50,000 Iraqi girls and women, many of them widows, are forced into prostitutionjust to survive. [ [http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2701324.ece '50,000 Iraqi refugees' forced into prostitution] ] [ [http://www.radionetherlands.nl/currentaffairs/iraq070824 Iraqi refugees forced into prostitution] ]
According to Washington based
Refugees International, out of the 4.2 million refugees fewer than 800 have been allowed into the US since the 2003 invasion. Swedenhad accepted 18,000 and Australiahad resettled almost 6,000. [ [http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21835052-2703,00.html US in Iraq for 'another 50 years'] , The Australian, June 2, 2007] By 2006 Sweden had granted protection to more Iraqis than all the other EU Member States combined. However, and following repeated unanswered calls to its European partners for greater solidarity, July 2007 saw Sweden introduce a more restrictive policy towards Iraqi asylum seekers, which is expected to reduce the recognition rate in 2008. [ cite web|url=http://www.ecre.org/files/ECRE_Survey_Iraq_2008.pdf |title=Five years on Europe is still ignoring its responsibilities towards Iraqi refugees |publisher=ECRE |accessdate=2008-09-03]
As many as 110,000 Iraqis could be targeted as collaborators because of their work for coalition forces. [cite web|url=http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/65269.html|title=Ambassador wants more visas for loyal Iraqis]
As of September 2007
Syriahad decided to implement a strict visa regime to limit the number of Iraqis entering the country at up to 5,000 per day, cutting the only accessible escape route for thousands of refugees fleeing the civil war in Iraq. A government decree that took effect on 10 September 2007 bars Iraqi passport holders from entering Syria except for businessmen and academics. Until then, the Syria was the only country to had resisted strict entry regulations for Iraqis. [ [http://article.wn.com/view/2007/09/03/Syria_moves_to_restrain_Iraqi_refugee_influx/ Syria moves to restrain Iraqi refugee influx] ] [ [http://www.smh.com.au/news/World/Syria-to-restricts-Iraqi-refugee-influx/2007/09/03/1188783155869.html Syria to restricts Iraqi refugee influx] ]
Religious minorities in the Middle East
Although Assyrian Christians represent less than 5% of the total Iraqi population, they make up 40% of the refugees fleeing Iraq, according to U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-03-22-christians-iraq_N.htm Christians, targeted and suffering, flee Iraq] ] [ [http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=7410 Terror campaign targets Chaldean church in Iraq] ] In the 16th century, Christians were half the population of Iraq. [ [http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/iraq?page=news&id=461e5a644 UNHCR |Iraq] ] In 1987, the last Iraqi census counted 1.4 million Christians. [ [http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=61897 Christians live in fear of death squads] ] But as the current war has radicalized Islamic sensibilities, Christians have seen their total numbers slump to about 500,000 today, of whom 250,000 live in
Baghdad. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/pope/story/0,,1961207,00.html 'We're staying and we will resist'] ]
Furthermore, the small Mandaean and
Yazidicommunities are at the risk of elimination due to ethnic cleansingby Islamic militants. [cite news|last=Crawford|first=Angus|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6412453.stm|publisher=BBC News|date= 2007-03-04|title=Iraq's Mandaeans 'face extinction' ] [cite news|last=Damon|first=Arwa|coauthors=Mohammed Tawfeeq and Raja Razek|url=http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/08/15/iraq.main/index.html?iref=topnews |title= Iraqi officials: Truck bombings killed at least 500|publisher=CNN|date= 2007-08-15] Entire neighborhoods in Baghdadwere ethnically cleansed by Shiaand SunniMilitias. [ [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-is-disintegrating-as-ethnic-cleansing-takes-hold-478937.html Iraq is disintegrating as ethnic cleansing takes hold] ] [ [http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2006/784/sc4.htm "There is ethnic cleansing"] ] Satellite shows ethnic cleansing in Iraq was key factor in "surge" success. [ [http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSN1953066020080919 Satellite images show ethnic cleanout in Iraq] , Reuters, September 19, 2008]
US governmentposition on refugees states that there is repression of religious minoritiesin the Middle Eastand in Pakistansuch as Christians, Hindus, as well as Ahmadi, and Zikridenominations of Islam. In Sudanwhere Islamis the state religion, Muslimsdominate the Government and restrict activities of Christians, practitioners of traditional Africanindigenous religions and other non- Muslims[http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2005/51662.htm] . The question of Jewish, Christianand other refugees from Araband Muslimcountries was introduced in March 2007 in the US congress[http://www.cjnews.com/viewarticle.asp?id=11342] .
Islamicrepublic of Iran, Iranian Christiansdecry minority religions' lack of freedom in Islamiccountries [http://www.iranchristians.org/prayer.shtml] , while Bahá'ís are also fleeing religious persecution[http://www.uga.edu/bahai/News/102800.html] .
Refugee movements in Asia
Soviet invasion of Afghanistanin 1979 through the early 1990s, the Afghan War (1978–92) caused more than six million refugees to flee to the neighboring countries of Pakistan and Iran, making Afghanistanthe greatest refugee-producing country. At the peak of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, close to seven million Afghan refugeessought refuge within Pakistan, making Pakistan the only country to have hosted such a huge number of refugees. The number of refugees fluctuated with the waves of the war, with thousands more fleeing after the Talibantakeover of 1996. The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and continued ethnic cleansing and reprisals also caused additional displacement. Though there has been some repatriationsponsored by the U.N. from Iran and Pakistan, a 2007 UNHCR census identified over two million Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan alone.
Since late April 2007, the Iranian government has forcibly deported back to Afghanistan nearly 100,000 registered and unregistered Afghans living and working in
Iran. The forceful evictions of the refugees, who have lived in Iran and Pakistanfor nearly three decades, are part of the two countries' larger plans to repatriate all Afghan refugees within a few years. Iran says it will send one million by next March, and Pakistan announced that all 2,400,000 Afghan refugees, most living in camps, must return home by 2009. Experts say it will be 'disastrous' for Afghanistan. [ [http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/article.aspx?id=834 Iranian Deportations Raise Fears of Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan] ] [ [http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0214/p06s02-wosc.html To root out Taliban, Pakistan to expel 2.4 million Afghans] ]
The Partition of 1947
The partition of the
Indian subcontinentinto Indiaand Pakistanin 1947 resulted in the largest human movement in history: an exchange of 18,000,000 Hindusand Sikhs(from Bangladesh-65% and Pakistan-35% ) for Muslims(from India). During the Bangladesh Liberation Warin 1971, owing to the civil war in Bangladesh (formerly east Pakistan) and Operation Searchlight, more than ten million Bengalis fled to neighboring India.
Bengali refugees in India in 1971
As a result of the
Bangladesh Liberation War, on 27 March 1971, Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, expressed full support of her Government to the Bangladeshi struggle for freedom. The Bangladesh-India border was opened to allow panic-stricken Bengalis safe shelter in India. The governments of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Meghalayaand Tripuraestablished refugee camps along the border. Exiled Bangladeshi army officers and the Indian military immediately started using these camps for recruitment and training members of Mukti Bahini. During the Bangladesh War of Independence around 10 million Bengalisfled the country to escape the killings and atrocities committed by the PakistanArmy. Following the war, the Bangladesh government and actively supported by the Indian military indiscriminately tortured and killed thousands of Bihariswho were mostly against the independence of Bangladesh. Those who survived the massacre were forced into squalid camps were they live to this day. There are between 126,000 and 159,000 Biharis who have been living in camp-like situations in Bangladesh ever since the war.
There are more than 150,000 Tibetans who live in India, many in settlements in
Dharamsalaand Mysore, and Nepal. These include people who have escaped over the Himalayasfrom Tibet, as well as their children and grandchildren. In India the overwhelming majority of Tibetans born in India are still stateless and carry a document called an Identity Card issued by the Indian government in lieu of a passport. This document states the nationality of the holder as Tibetan. It is a document that is frequently rejected as a valid travel document by many customs and immigrations departments.
Bhutanexpelled roughly 100,000 ethnic Nepalis, most of whom have been living in seven refugee camps in eastern Nepal ever since. In March 2008, this population began a multiyear resettlement to third countries including the U.S., New Zealand, Denmark and Australia. At present, the United Statesis working towards resettling more than 60,000 of these refugees in the US as third country settlement programme. [cite news | url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7082586.stm | title = Bhutan refugees are 'intimidated' | author = Bhaumik, Subir | date = November 7, 2007| work = BBC News | accessdate = 2008-04-25]
Meanwhile, as many as 200,000 Nepalese were displaced during the
Maoistinsurgency and Nepalese Civil Warwhich ended in 2006.
ri Lankan Tamils
The civil war in
Sri Lanka(1983 to the present) has generated millions of internally displaced as well as refugees. Sri Lanka Tamilshave fled to India, Europe(mostly France, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and Germany), and Canada(over 800,000 people).
Kashmir is believed to have one of the highest troop to civilian ratios in the world with an estimated 700,000 Indian troops and paramilitary forces in the region to subdue them. Many Kashmiris have fled the violence and crossed over the border into "Azad Kashmir" (Liberated Kashmir) in Pakistan as well as other major Pakistani urban centres where they form a large refugee population. Displacement of Kashmiri Hindus living in
Kashmirdue to the ongoing anti-Indian insurgency. Some 300,000 Hindus have been internally displaced from Kashmir due to the violence. [ [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html India] , "The World Factbook". Retrieved 20 May 2006.]
Tajikistan Civil War
Since 1991, much of the country's non-Muslim population, including
Russiansand Jews, have fled Tajikistandue to severe poverty, instability and Tajikistan Civil War(1992–1997). [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4420922.stm Russians left behind in Central Asia] , by Robert Greenall, BBC News, 23 November 2005.] In 1992, most of the country’s Jewish population was evacuated to Israel. [ [http://www.jewishsf.com/bk960906/iend.htm For Jews in Tajikistan, the end of history is looming] ] By the end of the civil war Tajikistan was in a state of complete devastation. Around 1.2 million people were refugees inside and outside of the country. [http://www.un.org/events/tenstories_2006/story.asp?storyID=600 Tajikistan: rising from the ashes of civil war] United Nations]
In 1989, after bloody pogroms against the
Meskhetian Turksin Central Asia's Ferghana Valley, nearly 90,000 Meskhetian Turks left Uzbekistan. [ [http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=28663 Focus on Mesketian Turks] ] [ [http://www.cal.org/co/pdffiles/mturks.pdf Meskhetian Turk Communities around the World] ]
Following the communist takeovers in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in 1975, about three million people attempted to escape in the subsequent decades. With massive influx of refugees daily, the resources of the receiving countries were severely strained. The plight of the
boat peoplebecame an international humanitarian crisis. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) set up refugee camps in neighboring countries to process the boat people. The budget of the UNHCR increased from $80 million in 1975 to $500 million in 1980. Partly for its work in Indochina, the UNHCR was awarded the 1981 Nobel Peace Prize.
*Large numbers of Vietnamese refugees came into existence after 1975 when
South Vietnamfell to the communist forces. Many tried to escape, some by boat, thus giving rise to the phrase " boat people." The Vietnamese refugees emigrated to Hong Kong, France, the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries, creating sizeable expatriate communities, notably in the United States.
*Survivors of the
Khmer Rougeregime in Cambodiafled across the border into Thailandafter the Vietnamese invasion of 1978-79. Approximately 300,000 of these people were eventually resettled in the United States, France, Canada, and Australia between 1979 and 1992, when the camps were closed and the remaining people repatriated.
*The Mien or Yao recently lived in northern
Vietnam, northern Laosand northern Thailand. In 1975, the Pathet Laoforces began seeking reprisal for the involvement of many Mien as soldiers in the CIA-sponsored Secret Warin Laos. As a token of appreciation to the Mien and Hmong peoplewho served in the CIA secret army, the United States accepted many of the refugees as naturalized citizens ( Mien American). Many more Hmong continue to seek asylum in neighboring Thailand [http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2006/06/07/national/national_30005937.php] .
*Due to the persecution of the ethnic Karen,
Karenniand other minority populations in Burma ( Myanmar) significant numbers of refugees live along the Thai border in camps of up to 50,000 people.
*Muslim ethnic groups from Burma, the
Rohingyaand other Arakanesehave been living in camps in Bangladeshsince the 1990s [http://hrw.org/reports/2000/burma/burm005-01.htm] [http://www.burmalibrary.org/show.php?cat=463] .
Korean War(1950–53) and the Chinese take-over of Tibet(1959) both caused the displacement of more than one million refugees.
* During the end of
Chinese Civil Warand Great Leap Forwardthousands of Chinese escaped to Hong Kongin the 1960s.
Refugee movements in Africa
Since the 1950s, many nations in
Africahave suffered civil wars and ethnic strife, thus generating a massive number of refugees of many different nationalities and ethnic groups. The division of Africa into European colonies in 1885, along which lines the newly independent nations of the 1950s and 1960s drew their borders, has been cited as a major reason why Africa has been so plagued with intrastate warfare. The number of refugees in Africa increased from 860,000 in 1968 to 6,775,000 by 1992 ( [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9063038 Encyclopedia Britannica, 2004] ). By the end of 2004, that number had dropped to 2,748,400 refugees, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees[http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/statistics/opendoc.pdf?tbl=STATISTICS&id=42b283744] . (That figure does not include internally displaced persons, who do not cross international borders and so do not fit the official definition of refugee.)
Many refugees in Africa cross into neighboring countries to find haven; often, African countries are simultaneously countries of origin for refugees and countries of asylum for other refugees. The
Democratic Republic of Congo, for instance, was the country of origin for 462,203 refugees at the end of 2004, but a country of asylum for 199,323 other refugees.
Countries in Africa from where 5,000 or more refugees originated as of the end of 2004, arranged in descending order of numbers of refugees are listed below. (UNHCR, [http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/statistics/opendoc.pdf?tbl=STATISTICS&id=42b283744 2004 Global Refugee Trends] , Table 3.) The largest number of refugees are from Sudan and have fled either the longstanding and recently concluded Sudanese Civil War or the
Darfur conflictand are located mainly in Chad, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
In the 1970s
Ugandaand other East African nations implemented racist policies that targeted the Asian population of the region. Uganda under Idi Amin's leadership was particularly most virulent in its anti-Asian policies, eventually resulting in the expulsion and ethnic cleansingof Uganda's Indian minority. [ [http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/136628.cms Ugandan refugees recount black deeds of 'butcher of Kampala'] ] Uganda's 80,000 Asians were mostly Indians born in the country. Indiahad refused to accept them. [ [http://www.theage.com.au/news/business/uk-indians-taking-care-of-business/2006/03/07/1141701511987.html UK Indians taking care of business] ] Most of the expelled Indians eventually settled in the United Kingdom. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/legacies/immig_emig/england/suffolk/article_1.shtml Uganda's loss, Britain's gain] ]
Great Lakes refugee crisis
In the aftermath of the 1994
Rwandan Genocide, over two million people fled into neighboring countries, in particular Zaire. The refugee camps were soon controlled by the former government and Hutumilitants who used the camps as bases to launch attacks against the new government in Rwanda. Little action was taken to resolve the situation and the crisis did not end until Rwanda-supported rebels forced the refugees back across the border at the beginning of the First Congo War.
Some 2.5 million, roughly one-third the population of the
Darfurarea, have been forced to flee their homes after attacks by Janjaweed Arabmilitia backed by Sudanese troops during the ongoing Darfur conflictin western Sudan. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/15/AR2006101500655.html African Union Force Ineffective, Complain Refugees in Darfur] ] [ [http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/article2768232.ece Arabs pile into Darfur to take land 'cleansed' by janjaweed] ]
Refugee movements within Europe
In 1956-57 following the
Hungarian Revolution of 1956nearly 200,000 persons, about two percent of the population of Hungary, fled as refugees. [ [http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/photos?set=hungarian_refugees The Lives of the Hungarian Refugees] , UNHCR]
Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakiain 1968 was followed by a wave of emigration, unseen before and stopped shortly after (estimate: 70,000 immediately, 300,000 in total), [ [http://www.britskelisty.cz/9808/19980821h.html "Day when tanks destroyed Czech dreams of Prague Spring" ("Den, kdy tanky zlikvidovaly české sny Pražského jara") at Britské Listy (British Letters)] ] typically of highly qualified people.
It is estimated that 40% of the Greek population of
Cyprus, as well as over half of the Turkish Cypriot population, were displaced by the Turkish invasion of Cyprusin 1974. The figures for internally displaced Cypriots varies, the United Peacekeeping force in Cyprus ( UNFICYP) estimates 165,000 Greek Cypriots and 45,000 Turkish Cypriots. The UNHCRregisters slightly higher figures of 200,000 and 65,000 respectively, being partly based on official Cypriot statistics which register children of displaced families as refugees. [ [http://www.internal-displacement.org/8025708F004CE90B/(httpCountrySummaries)/404B5F063033BD4B802570C00056B6EA?OpenDocument&count=10000 internal-displacement.org] ] The separation of the two communities via the UN patrolled Green Line prohibited the return of all internally displaced people.
Beginning in 1991, political upheavals in the
Balkanssuch as the breakup of Yugoslavia, displaced about 2,700,000 people by mid-1992, of which over 700,000 of them sought asylum in Europe. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/specials/bosnia/context/dayton.html Bosnia: Dayton Accords] ] [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C07E3D61339F937A15752C1A963958260&n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/Subjects/I/Immigration%20and%20Refugees Resettling Refugees: U.N. Facing New Burden] ] In 1999, about one million Albaniansescaped from Serbian persecution.
Today there are still thousands of refugees and internally
displaced persons in the Balkan Region who cannot return to their homes. Most of them are Serbswho cannot return to Kosovo, and who still live in refugee camps in Serbia today. Over 200,000 Serbs and other non-Albanian minorities fled or were expelled from Kosovo after the Kosovo Warin 1999. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/serbia/article/0,,1713498,00.html Serbia threatens to resist Kosovo independence plan] ] [ [http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/03/18/serbia8129.htm Kosovo/Serbia: Protect Minorities from Ethnic Violence (Human Rights Watch)] ]
The forced displacement and ethnic-cleansing of more than 250,000 people, mostly
Georgiansbut some others too, from Abkhaziaduring the conflict and after in 1993 and 1998. [ Bookman, Milica Zarkovic, "The Demographic Struggle for Power", (p. 131), Frank Cass and Co. Ltd. (UK), (1997) ISBN 0-7146-4732-2 ]
From 1992 ongoing conflict has taken place in
Chechenya, Caucasusdue to independence proclaimed by this republic in 1991 which is not accepted by the Russian Federation. As a consequence about 2 million people have been displaced and still cannot return to their homes. At the end of the Soviet era, ethnic Russianscomprised about 23% of the population (269,000 in 1989). Due to widespread lawlessness and ethnic cleansing under the government of Dzhokhar Dudayevmost non-Chechens (and many Chechens as well) fled the country during the 1990s or were killed. [ [http://www.chechnyaadvocacy.org/refugees.html Chechnya Advocacy Network. Refugees and Diaspora] ] [ [http://www.jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2369902 Ethnic Russians in the North of Caucasus - Eurasia Daily Monitor] ]
A phenomenon referred to as 'secondary movement' describes the travelling of
asylum seekers from one country of the European Unionto another.
As a result of
1991–1992 South Ossetia War, about 100,000 ethnic Ossetiansfled South Ossetia and Georgia proper, most across the border into North Ossetia. A further 23,000 ethnic Georgiansfled South Ossetia and settled in other parts of Georgia. [ Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, [http://hrw.org/reports/1996/Russia.htm RUSSIA. THE INGUSH-OSSETIAN CONFLICT IN THE PRIGORODNYI REGION] , May 1996.]
The United Nations estimated 100,000 Georgians have been uprooted as a result of the
2008 South Ossetia war; some 30,000 residents of South Ossetiafled into the neighboring Russian province of North Ossetia. [ [http://www.theage.com.au/world/100000-refugees-flee-conflict-20080812-3u5k.html 100,000 refugees flee Georgia conflict] ]
Refugee movements in the Americas
More than one million
Salvadorans were displaced during the Salvadoran Civil Warfrom 1975 to 1982. About half went to the United States, most settling in the Los Angelesarea. There was also a large exodus of Guatemalans during the 1980s, trying to escape from the Civil War and genocidethere as well. These people went to Southern Mexico and the U.S.
From 1991 through 1994, following the military
coup d'étatagainst President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, thousands of Haitians fled violence and repression by boat. Although most were repatriated to Haiti by the U.S. government, others entered the United States as refugees. Haitians were primarily regarded as economic migrants from the grinding poverty of Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
The victory of the forces led by
Fidel Castroin the Cuban Revolutionled to a large exodus of Cubansbetween 1959 and 1980. Dozens of Cubans yearly continue to risk the waters of the Straits of Floridaseeking better economic and political conditions in the U.S. In 1999 the highly publicized case of six year old Elián Gonzálezbrought the covert migration to international attention. Measures by both governments have attempted to address the issue; the U.S. instituted a wet feet, dry feet policyallowing refuge to those travelers who manage to complete their journey, and the Cuban government have periodically allowed for mass migration by organizing leaving posts. The most famous of these agreed migrations was the Mariel boatliftof 1980.
It is now estimated by the [http://www.refugees.org US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants] that there are about 150,000
Colombians in "refugee-like situations" in the United States, not recognized as refugees or subject to any formal protection.
Vietnam War, many U.S. citizens who were conscientious objectorsand wished to avoid the draft sought political asylum in Canada. President Jimmy Carterissued an amnestySince 1975, the U.S. has resettled approximately 2.6 million refugees, with nearly 77% being either Indochinese or citizens of the former Soviet Union. Since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980, annual admissions figures have ranged from a high of 207,116 in 1980 to a low of 27,100 in 2002.
Currently ,ten national voluntary agencies resettle refugees nationwide on behalf of the U.S. government: [http://www.churchworldservice.org/ Church World Service] , [http://www.ecdcinternational.org/ Ethiopian Community Development Council] , [http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/emm/ Episcopal Migration Ministries] , [http://www.hias.org/ Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] , [http://www.theirc.org International Rescue Committee] , [http://www.refugees.org US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants] , [http://www.lirs.org Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service] , [http://www.usccb.org/mrs/reshome.shtml United States Conference of Catholic Bishops] , [http://www.wr.org World Relief Corporation] and [http://www.dhs.state.ia.us/refugee/ State of Iowa, Bureau of Refugee Services] .
The [http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/ U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)] funds a number of [http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resources/tech_asst_providers.htm organizations that provide technical assistance] to voluntary agencies and local refugee resettlement organizations. [http://www.refugeeworks.org RefugeeWorks] , headquartered in Baltimore, MD., is ORR's training and technical assistance arm for employment and self-sufficiency activities, for example. The nonprofit organization assist refugee service providers in their efforts to help refugees achieve self-sufficiency. RefugeeWorks publishes white papers, newsletters and reports on refugee employment topics. [RefugeeWorks [http://www.refugeeworks.org/about/mission_statement.html Mission Statement] ]
Refugees as security threats
Very rarely, refugees have been used and recruited as refugee warriors. [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)1999 “The Security and Civilian and Humanitarian Character of Refugee Camps and Settlements.” UNHCR EXCOM Report] and the humanitarian aid directed at refugee relief has very rarely been utilized to fund the acquisition of arms. [Crisp, J.1999 “A State of Insecurity: The Political Economy of Violence in Refugee-Populated Areasof Kenya.” Working Paper No. 16, “New Issues in Refugee Research.”] Support from a refugee-receiving state has rarely been used to enable refugees to mobilize militarily, enabling conflict to spread across borders. [Weiss, T. G.1999 “Principles, Politics, and International Affairs,” Ethics &International Affairs, 13: 1-22.]
Common refugee medical problems
Apart from physical wounds or starvation, a large percentage of refugees develop symptoms of
post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) or depression. These long-term mental problems can severely impede the functionality of the person in everyday situations; it makes matters even worse for displaced persons who are confronted with a new environment and challenging situations. They are also at high risk for suicide. [ [http://archives.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/auspac/01/27/aust.detainee.suicide/index.html CNN.com - Detainee children 'in suicide pact' - January 28, 2002 ] ]
Among other symptoms, post-traumatic stress disorder involves
anxiety, over-alertness, sleeplessness, chronic fatigue syndrome, motor difficulties, failing short term memory, amnesia, nightmares and sleep-paralysis. Flashbacks are characteristic to the disorder: The patient experiences the traumatic event, or pieces of it, again and again. Depression is also characteristic for PTSD-patients and may also occur without accompanying PTSD.
PTSD was diagnosed in 34.1% of Palestinian children, most of whom were refugees,
males, and working. The participants were 1,000 children aged 12 to 16 years from governmental, private, and United Nations Relief Work Agency UNRWAschools in East Jerusalem and various governorates in the West Bank. [Khamis, V. "Post-traumatic stress disorder among school age Palestinian children." Child Abuse Negl. 2005 Jan;29(1):81-95.
Another study showed that 28.3% of Bosnian refugee women had symptoms of PTSD three or four years after their arrival in Sweden. These women also had significantly higher
risks of symptoms of depression, anxiety, and psychological distress than Swedish-born women. For depression the odds ratio was 9.50 among Bosnian women. [Sundquist K, Johansson LM, DeMarinis V, Johansson SE, Sundquist J. "Posttraumatic stress disorder and psychiatric co-morbidity: symptoms in a random sample of female Bosnian refugees." Eur Psychiatry. 2005 Mar;20(2):158-64.
A study by the Department of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at the
Boston UniversitySchool of Medicine demonstrated that twenty percent of Sudanese refugee minors living in the United States had a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. They were also more likely to have worse scores on all the Child Health Questionnaire subscales. [Geltman PL, Grant-Knight W, Mehta SD, Lloyd-Travaglini C, Lustig S, Landgraf JM, Wise PH. "The "lost boys of Sudan": functional and behavioral health of unaccompanied refugee minors re-settled in the United States." Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005 Jun;159(6):585-91.
Many more studies illustrate the problem. One
meta-studywas conducted by the psychiatry department of Oxford Universityat Warneford Hospital in the United Kingdom. Twenty surveys were analyzed, providing results for 6,743 adult refugees from seven countries. In the larger studies, 9% were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and 5% with major depression, with evidence of much psychiatric co-morbidity. Five surveys of 260 refugee children from three countries yielded a prevalenceof 11% for post-traumatic stress disorder. According to this study, refugees resettled in Western countries could be about ten times more likely to have PTSD than age-matched general populations in those countries. Worldwide, tens of thousands of refugees and former refugees resettled in Western countries probably have post-traumatic stress disorder. [Fazel M, Wheeler J, Danesh J. "Prevalence of serious mental disorder in 7000 refugees resettled in western countries: a systematic review." Lancet. 2005 Apr 9-15;365(9467):1309-14.
Medico legal Considerations
Refugee populations consist of people who are terrified, and are away from familiar surroundings. There can be instances of exploitation at the hands of enforcement officials, citizens of the host country, and even United Nations peacekeepers. Instances ofhuman rights violations, child labor, mental and physical trauma/torture, violence-related trauma, and sexual exploitation, especially of children are not entirely unknown. In many refugee camps in three war-torn West African countries, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, young girls were found to be exchanging sex for money, a handful of fruit, or even a bar of soap. Most of these girls were between 13 and 18 years of age. This happened as recently as in 2001. Parents tended to turn a blind eye because sexual exploitation had become a ‘‘mechanism of survival’’ in these camps. [Aggrawal A. (2005) "Refugee Medicine" in : Payne-James JJ, Byard RW, Corey TS, Henderson C (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine, Elsevier Academic Press: London, Vol. 3, Pp. 514-525.]
World Refugee Day
World Refugee Day occurs on
June 20. The day was created in 2000 by a special United Nations General Assembly Resolution. June 20 had previously been commemorated as African Refugee Day in a number of African countries.
United KingdomWorld 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 theatre.
diaspora, a mass movement of population, usually forced by war or natural disaster
Internally displaced person
Plant refugee[ [http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/49001/story.htm Planet Ark : Climate Change to Create 'Plant Refugees' - US Study ] ]
Right of asylum(and political asylum)
Giorgio Agamben, " Homo Sacer"
Hannah Arendt, " The Origins of Totalitarianism" (1951)
*Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (The United Kingdom Court for Asylum claims)
Comprehensive Plan of Action
List of famous refugees
Merhan Karimi Nasseri, an Iranian refugee who has been living in the departure lounge of Terminal One in Charles de Gaulle Airportsince 1988.
Naturalization(includes denaturalization laws)
Refugee migration into New Zealand
Scottish Refugee Council
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
World War II evacuation and expulsion
*Michael Robert Marrus, "The Unwanted: European refugees in the 20th century", Oxford University Press 1985
*Mark Bixler, "The Lost Boys of Sudan: An American Story of the Refugee Experience," University of Georgia Press 2005
*Peter Fell and Debra Hayes, "What are they doing here? A critical guide to asylum and immigration." Venture Press 2007.
*Matthew J. Gibney, "The Ethics and Politics of Asylum: Liberal Democracy and the Response to Refugees," Cambridge University Press 2004
*Tony Waters, "Bureaucatizing the Good Samaritan", Westview Press, 2001.
*Aristide R. Zolberg et al.,"Escape from Violence," Oxford University Press, 1989.
*Refugee number statistics taken from 'Refugee', Encyclopaedia Britannica CD Edition 2004.
*Dietmar Schultke, refugees in former East-Germany 1945-1990, in: "Keiner kommt durch - Die Geschichte der innerdeutschen Grenze und Berliner Mauer, Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 2008
* [http://www.globalgang.org/findit/topics/refugees.aspx Global Gang,] amazing real life stories about kids around the world who have been 'forced to flee' on this website for 7-14 year olds. Resources for teachers on the sister website [http://learn.christianaid.org.uk Learn]
* [http://www.refugees.org/article.aspx?id=1941 World Refugee Survey]
* [http://www.jmclajot.net Pictures of Refugees in Europe] - Features by Jean-Michel Clajot, Belgian photographer
* [http://www.azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/51_folder/51_articles/51_editorial.html Azerbaijani refugees]
* [http://www.ecre.org European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)] The European umbrella organization for European non-governmental organizations concerned with refugees and asylum seekers. Website provides weekly updates on European asylum policies, country reports, refugee stories and a comprehensive list of related links among other materials on the issue.
* [http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-69-524/life_society/boat_people/ CBC Digital Archives—Boat People: A Refugee Crisis]
* [http://refugeethesaurus.org/hms/home.php?publiclogin=1 UNHCR Thesaurus] of official terminology related to refugees
* [http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/imm_ref Refugee numbers by country]
* [http://www.pards.org PARDS.ORG] Political Asylum Research and Documentation Service (Princeton, New Jersey)
* [http://www.refugeestories.org Refugee Stories—Listen to People's Experiences] The site of the Refugee Communities History Project is full of oral history in mp3 format. The project won the 2006 Charity Award for arts, culture and heritage in the UK.
* [http://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/ Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford]
* [http://www.unhcr.org UNHCR] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees home page
* [http://www.unhcr.org/refworld UNHCR RefWorld] access to UNHCR Country of Origin and Legal Information databases
* [http://www.unhcr.org/publ/PUBL/4579701b2.pdf Measuring Protection by Numbers, Report from official UNHCR home page]
* [http://www3.baylor.edu/~Charles_Kemp/refugee_health.htm Refugee Health ~ Immigrant Health] Populations and Issues & Infectious Diseases—from authors of Refugee and Immigrant Health: A Handbook for Health Professionals ISBN 0-521-82859-7
* [http://www.geocities.com/alp_cafr/L4R.html Australian Labor Party "Labor for Refugees (Victorian Branch)" website]
* [http://www.redcross.org.uk/refugee British Red Cross refugee service] Details of what the Red Cross and other organisations in the UK offer refugees
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