Q. Who is a refugee?

A. The legal definition of a refugee as adopted in the 1951 United Nations Convention is: “a person who owing to well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of nationality and is unable, or, owing to such a fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, unwilling to return to it”

Q. Who are Internally Displaced People (IDP)?

A. Internally Displaced People or IDPs are forced to flee their homes just as refugees must. However, IDPs do not cross an international boundary and are displaced within their own country. IDPs face the same hardships as refugees, without the same protection under international law. And, because of their unique situation, it is often very difficult to provide assistance to IDPs.

Q. How many uprooted people are there throught the world

A. According to recent estimates from the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, there are 13.9 million refugees and asylum seekers throughout the world, and 21 million internally displaced persons in need of protection and assistance. In 2006, an estimated 3.2 million people became newly uprooted from their homes and/or countries.

Q. What is life like before transition to a third country?

A. In camp, safety often cannot be assured. Women and children are especially vulnerable, and enemies from home either from outside or inside the camps may threaten. Refugees receive some rations, which often inadequate and continuing instability at home will cause them to remain in the camp for years. Some few are able to find work in or near the camp; most cannot. Conditions in most refugee camps are deplorable, making refugees susceptible to a host of diseases.

Q. What are the major problems that leads one to become a refugee? and what countries have refugees fled from?

A. Violence and persecution that cause refugees to flee are widespread. Forty-six countries and territories have produced significant numbers of refugees (10,000 or more refugees each). Nearly two-thirds of the world’s refugees are in the Middle East and Africa. Although refugee flows are widespread, a handful of countries are the primary source.

Q. What measures are taken to improve refugees health once they arrive in a country of asylum e.g. the United States?

A. The Domestic Refugee Health Program was established to facilitate collaboration between the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and its domestic partners, to improve the health-care of refugees after their arrival in the United States, initiate surveillance activities to monitor medical conditions identified post-arrival, work together to ensure adequate follow-up of refugees with medical conditions identified overseas, and strengthen the resources available for post-arrival health assessments and follow-up activities.

Q. Do refugees undergo medical examination? Who performs it?

A. Outside the United States, medical examinations are performed by physicians called panel physicians, who are selected by Department of State Consular Officials. In the United States, medical examinations are performed by physicians called civil surgeons, who are designated by district directors of the USCIS.

Q. What are the challenges faced by refugees in countries of asylum?

A. Most refugees face a language barrier in their country of asylum. This makes it very challenging to adopt and be able to work in third countries. There is also the difference in climate, culture and food.

Q.Do refugees ever return to their countries of origin?

A. Yes, in large numbers. Some 1.1 million refugees voluntarily repatriated during 1999. More than 4 million refugees have voluntarily returned home in the past five years; more than 13 million refugees repatriated during the decade of the 1990s. In 2007 alone, more than 650,000 repatriated to Kosovo. More than 150,000 returned voluntarily to Afghanistan (another 100,000 were forcibly returned from Iran). An estimated 80,000 went back home to Liberia. Ten thousand or more refugees repatriated to 13 countries in the recent years.

Q. How can I help refugees?
A. You’re actually helping refugees right now. By learning more about refugees, how many there are, and the suffering they face, you can talk to others and teach them about the plight , especially health issues of refugees. Visit refugee website to learn about how you can help refugees.

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