A refugee is someone with a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, who is outside of his or her country of nationality and unable or unwilling to return. Refugees are forced from their countries by war, civil conflict, political strife or gross human rights abuses. There were an estimated 14.9 million refugees in the world in 2001 - people who had crossed an international border to seek safety - and at least 22 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) who had been uprooted within their own countries.
Enshrined in Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the right 'to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution'. This principle recognises that victims of human rights abuse must be able to leave their country freely and to seek refuge elsewhere. Governments frequently see refugees as a threat or a burden, refusing to respe...
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