The United Nations states that refugees “are persons fleeing armed conflict or persecution”. Migrants “choose to move not because of a direct threat of persecution or death, but mainly to improve their lives by finding work, or in some cases for education, family reunion, or other reasons”.
Knowing if a person is a tourist, a migrant or a refugee is very important because they are treated differently by the laws of each country. The United Nations Refugee Convention was written in response to the many thousands of displaced people in Europe after the Second World War (1939-1945). Many countries have put the Refugee Convention into their laws. These countries are obliged to help those who are fleeing from their home country because of the threat of persecution.
At the moment many people are trying to get into Europe by making a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea in small boats to Italy, Spain and Greece. Many of these are children on their own. The host countries are struggling to cope with the extra people.
Meanwhile, in the United States of America over a six-week period in 2018 at least 2,000 children were separated from their parents after trying to cross the Mexican border.
The refugee crisis is a world problem, probably the biggest crisis since the Second World War, when about 60 million Europeans became refugees. (almost the same size of the population of the United Kingdom).
Imagine how serious things must be if parents choose to send their children to safety in this way.
There are millions of child refugees around the world. They are running away from war, poverty and danger. Their parents are so desperate that they are paying people to smuggle, or transport them illegally into European countries where they can claim asylum.
Some children who have travelled alone are put into reception centres and children’s homes, but many do not make it to these places. They sleep in sports halls and churches or outside train and bus stations, or in abandoned houses.
The numbers of people entering Europe are small compared to what is taking place in countries like Syria and her neighbours (Lebanon has 1.4 million Syrian refugees).
Facts about refugees
There are 19.5 million refugees in the world today
Many of the world’s refugees are in developing countries
Turkey has more refugees than any other country
More than half of the worlds’s refugees are under the age of 18
There are more than 5 million Syrian refugees across the globe. (One out of every four people in Lebanon is a refugee from Syria).
South Sudan: Since 2013, 2.1 million people have been forced to flee their homes. Uganda is next to South Sudan. It is already hosting more than one million refugees.
Egypt hosts more than 208,000 refugees.
Over 847,200 refugees now live in refugee camps in Ethiopia.
Kenya hosts nearly half a million refugees, mostly from Somalia and South Sudan.
Myanmar & Bangladesh: More than 688,000 Rohingya men, women and children have fled to Bangladesh, after an escalation of violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State.