Learn Who is a Refugee
Although the concept of seeking refuge in a Holy place has existed for thousands of years, the current term of refugee stems from the conflicts, hostilities, and mass forced migrations of the 20th century.

The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 clearly established a definition of a refugee in response to the many people affected by World War II. The definition of a legal refugee was subsequently expanded by the Convention’s 1967 Protocol and by regional conventions in Africa (1969) and Latin America (1984).



A refugee is a person who is outside their country of origin because they have suffered persecution and cannot safely return home because of these circumstances. In order to qualify as a refugee a person must have endured persecution on account of:

• Race,

• Religion,

• Nationality,

• Political opinion,

• Being a member of a persecuted social group.

This is a simplified version of the UNHCR definition of who a refugee is; please see the UNHCR site for the complete legal understanding of refugee conditions.

Syrian refugees in Damascus.
Today war, famine, civil unrest, economic and environmental disasters have caused unprecedented numbers of displaced people across the globe. UNHCR has identified three durable solutions for refugees: voluntary repatriation, local integration, and resettlement to a third country. Through the third solution, resettlement, AURA works determinedly to help as many refugees as possible.

It is important to understand not everyone who leaves their country of origin will be classified as a refugee. Migrants, especially economic migrants, are people who choose to move in order to improve their and their family’s future prospects. Refugees are forced to move in order to save their lives or preserve their freedom. Refugees have no protection from their own governments and it is often their own governments that threaten to persecute them.

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