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FAQs about refugees

Under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the definition could be simplified in a bullet point below;

 The definition of refugee under the 1951 Convention is;

  1. A person who is outside his/her country of nationality (or habitual residence if have no nationality),
  2. Who is unable or (owing to his or her fear) unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country (ie to return there),
  3. Because of a ‘well-founded’ fear;
    1. Subjective element – he/she must be afraid
    2. Objective element – there must be evidence from his/her country (eg newspaper articles, ngo reports, un reports) that shows that he/she has a good reason to be afraid
  4. Of persecution (eg threat to life or freedom or other serious violations of human rights),
  5. Based on;
    1. Race (includes ethnic group),
    2. Religion,
    3. Nationality (ethnic or linguistic group),
    4. Political opinion, or
    5. Membership of a particular social group (usually persons of similar background, habits or social status, often with a characteristic which is innate, unchangeable or fundamental).

Definition of refugee under the UNHCR’s international protection mandate (extended mandate refugees);

  1. A person who is outside his/her country of nationality (or habitual residence if have no nationality), and
  2. Is unable or unwilling to return there,
  3. Because of serious and indiscriminate threats to life, physical integrity or freedom resulting from generalized violence or events seriously disturbing public order.

Exclusion from refugee protection;

In either case, also need to consider whether person might be excluded as a refugee because they come within one of the exclusion categories in article 1f of the convention, being that he/she:

  • Has committed a crime against peace, a war crime, a crime against humanity,
  • Has committed a serious non-political crime outside the country of refuge prior to admission to that country as a refugee, or
  • Has been guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the UN.