Who is a refugee?
2004 is the 53rd anniversary of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees. 53 years ago, we vowed that the horrors of the Holocaust should never be allowed to occur again. 53 years ago, 134 countries signed an agreement that anyone, anywhere, who found it necessary to flee persecution in their own country could have their claim for asylum heard fairly, and would receive protection if they needed it.
The Convention gave us a clear-cut definition of the word refugee for the first time: a refugee is defined as someone who is forced to leave home and country, who escapes to another country and is given refugee status by the government of that country. For a person to be given refugee status, the government of the country to whom the person has fled must decide whether that person has (of their home country):
'a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or politi...
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