Ever wondered how the current refugee law effects their daily lives? Below lists some information that could be of interest. Addressing the refugee crisis is something that urgently needs to be done. Refugees face major struggles with this law as it neglects to see the risk that they face everyday.

According to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, 65.6 million people are currently forcibly displaced worldwide with 22.5 million of these being classed as refugees. 55% of these refugees come from only three countries, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria.


The law surrounding refugees in the international sphere stems from the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951 and the subsequent protocol in 1967. According to this Convention, a refugee is a person who

  • has a well-founded fear of being persecuted
  • for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion
  • The person must be outside the country of his nationality and
  • unable to avail himself of protection in his own country.

Some information about the convention

Article 33 of the Convention prevents States from expelling or returning a refugee to their home country where his or her life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality or membership of a particular social group or political opinion. This also applies to where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

How this effects refugees an their daily lives

On a human level, refugee law is an impractical afterthought for those who are forced to flee their homes. Despite only 17% of the world’s refugees being located in Europe, some of the wealthiest European nations are content to leave the responsibility of coping with the refugee crisis to a small number of nations. Turkey hosts the most refugees in the world, totally 2.9 million followed by Pakistan with 1.4 million and Lebanon with 1 million, according to the UN.

What is being done

In an attempt to address the refugee crisis, Amnesty International has recently launched a campaign entitled “I Welcome Refugees” with three main aims:

  • Family Reunification for Refugees
  • Academic Scholarships allowing refugees to begin or continue education
  • Medical visas

This campaign hopes to bring the refugee crisis back to a human level and encourage individuals to see refugees as part of the international community. While refugee law is an important part of the international legal framework, it tackles the problem from the top down, targeting states and organisations rather than focusing on individuals at risk. The process of prosecution and vindication is also cumbersome and slow, thus the work of NGOs such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch as well as UN workers on the ground is vital.


Recent controversy has spiralled surrounding the failure of the Convention to protect those fleeing the effects of climate change. Another anomaly in the legislation comes in the failure of the Convention to protect those who flee their homes as a result of violence rather than a fear of persecution, a status which is not provided for in the Convention. As far as the convention is concerned, those who flee their country as a result of war are not refugees. Another problem comes in the few countries which have not ratified the convention, including Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.


Photo credit: Dave Freedom www.unsplash.com

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