3 June, 2016
The ongoing Refugee crisis in Europe may have grabbed the media’s attention, but it is only one example of refugee movements in the world. Beyond sensational headlines, there is so much more to know about these displaced men, women, and children who are often escaping the same terror many of us fear.
Refugees and Human Rights
- A refugee is a person who has fled armed conflict or persecution and who subsequently has the right to seek protection in another country under international law. An asylum-seeker is someone who says they are a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated.
- During mass movements of asylum seekers, like what we’re seeing now in Europe, it is generally evident why they have fled, and therefore such groups are often declared “prima facie” refugees.’
- Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are people who have been forced to flee their homes, but who have not crossed any international borders to seek safety.
- Seeking asylum in other countries is a human right recognized by Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Countries that have ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention are obligated to protect refugees in their territory.
- 142 countries have signed on to the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol. Parties to the Convention have a duty to provide protection to refugees in their territory, and are bound not to return any refugee to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened.
- Refugees and asylum seekers have numerous rights, including the right to: not get sent back to their home country; not be punished for illegally entering countries that are party to the Convention and Protocol; housing; work; access to education; access to public assistance; access to courts; get identification and travel documents.
- Around the world, more than 40,000 people are forced to flee their homes every single day.
- In total, almost 60 million people in the world are refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs).
- 50% of the world’s refugees are under 18 years old.
- More than 50% of the world’s refugees are from 3 countries – Syria, Afghanistan & Somalia.
86% of refugees are hosted by developing countries.
- The average time out of country for a refugee is now well over a decade. Last year alone, more than 5,000 men, women, and even unaccompanied children lost their lives during their search for safety and a better life.
- More than 1 million refugees crossed into Europe in 2015—most from Syria, but thousands also from Afghanistan, Iraq, and other conflict-affected countries.
- 3,770 people died crossing the Mediterranean in 2015.
- Already in 2016, another 179, 552 refugees and migrants have reached Europe by sea, with at least 761 losing their lives during the journey.
- In March 2016, borders throughout Europe closed to refugees, leaving close to 50,000 now stranded in Greece with no way forward.
- Germany had the most asylum applications in 2015, but Hungary had the highest in proportion to its population with 1,800 refugees per 100,000 local residents.
- As of early 2016, the number of Syrian people in need of aid is more than the entire population of the Netherlands at 17 million.
- Syria now accounts for the largest refugee population, with more than 3 million forced to flee the country. The UN predicts that there could close to 5 million registered Syrian refugees by the end of 2016.
- On top of those who have become refugees outside of Syria, there are another 7.6 million internally displaced persons (IDP) within the country.
- 4 million Syrian children have no means of getting an education safely within the country or as refugees.
- As many as 50% of Syrians suffer serious psychological distress due to the violence, death, and instability that surround them in their country and as refugees.
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