Who is a Refugee?

  • Under U.S. and international law, a refugee is someone outside his or her own country with a well-founded fear of persecution in that country based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. 
  • Unlike immigrants who choose to leave their homeland for better opportunities or to reunite with family, refugees are forced to leave their country to protect their lives, and the lives of their families.
  • Most refugees desire to return to their homeland in peace and safety – and they are willing to wait a long time in refugee camps and dangerous settings for that possibility.  
  • Resettlement in a new country is available to less than 1% of the world’s refugees as the last resort for those who cannot return to their homes, and for whom it is not possible to survive or rebuild their lives in a nearby country.
  • The vast majority of the world’s refugees live in places that neighbor the countries they have fled, placing disproportionate responsibility on already strained allies and stretching their ability to provide protection and care, further risking the stability of the region.
  • Refugees are fleeing the same kind of terror which we have seen unfolding around the world.
  • They are the families, the children, and the most vulnerable among us who have lost everything; 78% of refugees are women and children. 
  • Refugees have defied and survived all the odds staked against them to leave behind discrimination, terror, threats and violence.