Mainstream news mentions the term “refugees” a lot. At many points, such as during the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexican border and when the Taliban took control of the government in Afghanistan, the word appeared often in the media. However, there are many different types of displaced persons, with each type having its own definition. Additionally, many displaced people are living in poverty.
The Correlation Between Displaced Persons and Poverty
A correlation exists between displaced persons and poverty as those who leave their homes or their native countries are unable to support themselves while trying to find a new place to make a life for themselves. According to a U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimate, in 2020, 82.4 million people experienced displacement throughout the world due to reasons including persecution, conflict and violence. About 48 million internally displaced people, 26.4 million refugees and 4.1 million asylum seekers made up that number.
On the topic of education, child refugees are more likely to be out of school than children living in ordinary circumstances. Out of the 7.1 million school-age refugees around the world, only 3.4 million of these children attended either primary or secondary education. In terms of gender inequality among refugees, for every 10 refugee boys in primary school, there were fewer than eight refugee girls. In secondary school, the number diverges more with fewer than seven refugee girls in school for every 10 refugee boys. Currently, there are 3.7 million school-age refugee children not in school.
Types of Refugees
- Refugee: The news often uses the term refugee as a coverall term. However, UNHCR defines a refugee as “a person forced to flee their country because of violence or persecution.” People may be refugees if they have a strong fear of persecution for reasons including race, religion, nationality, political opinion or participation in specific social groups. The leading causes of people becoming refugees are conflict and violence as well as ethnic and religious intolerances. Out of all of the refugees in the world, 68% are from Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar. In the United States, the government has expanded the definition of a refugee from the definition that the UNHCR provides. The United States considers a refugee a person situated in a country that is not the U.S., a person whom the U.S. considers to be of “special humanitarian concern,” someone who has faced or may face persecution in their home country, a person without proper resettlement in any country or one who “is admissable to the United States.”
- Internally Displaced Person: An internally displaced person is a person who became displaced within their home country. In-country fighting and/or natural disasters are the two major causes of internally displaced persons. Unlike refugees, internally displaced persons are not able to receive protection under international law since they are still under the protection of their government. Because these people are still in their own country, they cannot receive certain aid. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Colombia, Syria and Yemen contain the most internally displaced people globally. In total, 48 million people are internally displaced around the world.
- Stateless Person: A stateless person is someone who does not have citizenship in any country. “People can become stateless for several reasons including sovereign, legal, technical, administrative decisions or oversights.” Without a nationality or citizenship to claim, the person does not receive any political, social or economic rights that citizens usually obtain. The UNHCR’s estimated number of stateless persons is 4.2 million, however, some believe that this number could be much higher due to limited data.
- Asylum Seeker: An asylum seeker is someone who leaves their own country to seek protection or sanctuary in another country. Once they arrive in another country, they apply for asylum which grants them “the right to be recognized as a refugee and receive legal protection and material assistance.” According to the UNHCR, countries only accept refugees if they can prove that their fear of persecution is legitimate. In 2020 alone, 1.1 million new asylum claims emerged.
Refugees International is a nonprofit that focuses on aiding and protecting displaced persons. It began in 1979 to provide support for people who experienced violence in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. However, since then, the organization has expanded across the world. The group operates by traveling around the world to see and speak to refugees firsthand in order to best provide the policy and solutions necessary to solve the problems leading to these crises.
The world’s displaced persons deserve to receive protection just like citizens of any country and that protection should not only be from their country of origin or their temporary place of retreat. Fortunately, organizations like Refugees International are providing aid to displaced people across the globe, bringing hope for a better tomorrow.
– Julian Smith
Photo: Wikipedia Commons