Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

Refugees

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  • A woman has her ration card checked at the Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya.
  • Somali children attend an outdoor classroom at the Friends Primary School in Ifo Refugee Camp, Dadaab, Kenya.
  • A sister and brother sit on a plastic container outside their family's makeshift shelter at Ifo Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya.
  • On the outskirts of the Ifo Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya, Somali women learn to grow their own crops.
  • To minimise environmental impact, Myanmar refugees construct and repair their houses with materials provided by the Thailand Burma Border Consortium.
  • In Myanmar, the Longyi Weaving Project assists women living in refugee camps to maintain and develop traditional skills and earn an income.
  • A woman stands outside her newly built concrete block home. It has a tiled roof.
  • A Tamil woman stands inside the shell of her bombed out home in northern Sri Lanka.

Quick facts

  • World Refugee Day is June 20 helps us focus on the people who have been forced to leave homes due to persecution.
  • At the end of 2013, the number of ‘people of concern’ to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was 51.2 million, the highest level on record.
  • The 51.2 million people of concern included:
    • 16.7 million refugees
    • 1.2 million asylum seekers
    • 414,600 refugees who had repatriated
    • 33.3 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs)
    • 1.4 million IDPs returned home
    • 10 million stateless persons.
  • Countries hosting the most refugees in 2013 were Pakistan with 1.6 million, Iran with 857,400, Lebanon with 856,500 and Jordan with 641,000.
  • In 2013 Pakistan also hosted the largest number of refugees in relation to its economic capacity with 512 refugees per $US1 GDP (PPP) per capita, followed by Ethiopoa (336), Kenya (295) and Chad (199).
  • Afghanistan has been the leading country of origin of refugees for the past three decades. In 2013 there were 2.5 million Afghan refugees. Syrians were the second largest refugee group, with 2.47 million refugees followed by Somalia with 1.12 million.
  • The number of Internally Displaced Persons in mid-2013 surpassed 20 million for the first time in UNHCR history.

Source

United Nations Refugee Agency www.unhcr.org

 

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Introduction

Who are refugees?

A refugee is a person who:

owing to a 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 his nationality and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country . . .

The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951

Imagine being so scared of being killed or tortured that you would leave your home and all your possessions without knowing where you could live in safety.

Who are ‘people of concern’?

Not all people who flee their homes are defined as refugees. They may be:

  • Asylum seekers – people who have fled their own country in fear of persecution and are seeking recognition as refugees.
  • Returned refugees – people who have been able to return home.
  • Internally Displaced People (IDP) – people who flee their homes in fear, but do not cross over their country's international borders.
  • Stateless persons – people not considered a national by any country.

Collectively they are known as ‘people of concern’. At the end of 2010 there were over 32 million such ‘people of concern’ who had left their homes in fear.

Life in flight

Leaving home hurriedly, people have few resources and are vulnerable to attack. They have many days of travel, with little food and are in fear for their lives. If they get to safety, they rely on the people living in the area to which they have fled. International organisations take time to mobilise the support necessary.

When people arrive at a temporary refugee shelter, they are registered for their protection and to determine their needs. Defining who and where people are assists in the supply of sufficient resources, especially for those with special needs such as separated children, those needing medical attention and the elderly.

Each situation is different. The length of time taken to resolve the conflict, resources available to meet needs, and the international ability to find solutions all affect the ability of refugees to rebuild their lives.

How are the rights of refugees protected?

The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) and its 1967 Protocol outline the rights and processes protecting the needs of refugees. A total of 147countries signed one or both of these documents.

Most people fleeing from conflict and persecution seek asylum in a neighbouring country. Often these countries are poor. UNHCR coordinates the protection of refugees and the provision of finance, food, shelter, schools and clinics, and attempts to find durable solutions.

How are the rights of ‘people of concern’ protected?

  • Asylum seekers – The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees guarantees the right of asylum seekers to be free from persecution. It requires that they be offered the same protection and benefits as other citizens of the host country. In cases where asylum seekers are not recognised as refugees, the Convention states that they must not be returned to a situation in which they will be in danger.
  • Returnees – The UNHCR monitors the situation of returnees for 12 months after they return.
  • IDPs – Although their own government is responsible for them, it may be either unable or unwilling to assist them and it may invite the UNHCR to protect them.
  • Stateless persons – The UNHCR works with governments to prevent statelessness from occurring, to resolve those cases that do occur, and to protect the rights of stateless persons.

In general the protection of ‘people of concern’ is limited. Security or political concerns and limited financial resources restrict the ability of the governments of host countries, international agencies and non-government organisations to offer assistance and provide protection.

How are refugee issues resolved?

Return home

The preferred solution is for refugees to return home, but a great deal of support is necessary to rebuild their lives and the infrastructure, and to restore stability. Landmines may need to be cleared. Trust between people who have been fighting needs to be re-established.

Resettlement in a new country

Some refugees cannot go home because they fear they will face continued persecution. In such circumstances, UNHCR helps to find them new homes, either in the country of asylum, or in a third country. This may take a long time, as there are more people in need than places available. Resettling refugees requires tremendous support, as they learn a new culture and language, establish a new social network, begin to earn a living and overcome the trauma they have experienced.

Responses

Australia’s response

The Australian Government is committed to responding to the needs of refugees and other people of concern. It contributes financially to the UNHCR and other key humanitarian agencies. It supports protecting and improving conditions for refugees, finding durable solutions to refugee crises and the reintegration of returnees, particularly in the Asia–Pacific region. The Australian Government is also committed to fostering respect for international humanitarian law, and refugee and human rights law through participating in international forums.

Source

Australian Aid, Fragility and conflict 

International responses

As conflicts force people to flee their homes and prevent them from returning, neighbouring countries – often poor themselves – provide refuge with the support of the international community. Richer countries provide funding and allow migration of recognised refugees.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
International Organization for Migration
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Teaching activity

Refugees

To minimise environmental impact, Myanmar refugees construct and repair their houses with materials provided by the Thailand Burma Border Consortium.
Students develop an understanding of situations which cause people to flee their homes, the rights of the people that are forced to flee, and the processes that protect and support these people.
Read more
Year level: 5-6
Issue: Refugees
Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Case studies

Myanmar refugees

To minimise environmental impact, Myanmar refugees construct and repair their houses with materials provided by the Thailand Burma Border Consortium.
Refugee camps on the Thailand–Myanmar border have been home to displaced minority groups for many years.
Read more

Rebuilding Sri Lanka

A Tamil woman stands inside the shell of her bombed out home in northern Sri Lanka.
In 2009, after 26 years of civil conflict, peace was declared in Sri Lanka. The government and many organisations are now assisting people to return to their homes, and are helping to rehabilitate soldiers, reconstruct the economy and reconcile differences between and within ethnic communities.
Read more

Resources

Australian Red Cross

Australian Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement whose mission is to provide assistance and improve the lives of vulnerable people, particularly during emergencies and armed conflict. Red Cross offices are to be found in each state and territory and support a variety of participation programs.

http://www.redcross.org.au

Global dimension

The Global Dimension website, funded by the education charity Think Global in the UK, provides access to teaching resources, case studies and background information. Resources can be searched by a number of criteria including learning area, topic, year level and price range. Access is through free registration and you can sign up for a quarterly newsletter.

http://globaldimension.org.uk

Global Words

Global Words, produced by World Vision Australia and the Primary English Teaching Association Australia, integrates English curriculum with global citizenship. It consists of four units for years 3–4, 5–6 and 7–8. Using a range of texts and text types, topics include refugees and migration, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, neighbours and the Asia-Pacific region, and sustainability.

http://www.globalwords.edu.au/

International Organization for Migration

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is an intergovernmental organisation that assists with a variety of migration management activities throughout the world. These include assisted voluntary returns and integration, the countering of people-trafficking, labour migration and migration health.

http://www.iom.int

Long Journey Young Lives

Long Journey Young Lives produced by the Australian Film Commission is an interactive documentary that provides unique insight into the experiences of child refugees, who talk about the conflict in their homeland, the dangerous journey away from their homeland and detention. It also presents some opinions of young Australians. Even though this was made in 2002 it still presents a range of interesting ideas.

http://www.abc.net.au/longjourney

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is responsible for coordinating strategies to prevent and alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies. This includes the protection and support of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), advocacy for their rights and the facilitation of their resettlement.

http://ochaonline.un.org

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees coordinates international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. The website offers maps, statistics, documents, images and country specific information on many aspects of refugee life. The teachers’ section offers a range of lesson plans, videos and poster resources.

http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home

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A woman has her ration card checked at the Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya.
Photo by Kate Holt/Africa Practice
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A woman has her ration card checked at the Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. Photo by Kate Holt/Africa Practice
Somali children attend an outdoor classroom at the Friends Primary School in Ifo Refugee Camp, Dadaab, Kenya.
Photo by Scott Kelleher for AusAID
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Somali children attend an outdoor classroom at the Friends Primary School in Ifo Refugee Camp, Dadaab, Kenya. Photo by Scott Kelleher for AusAID
A sister and brother sit on a plastic container outside their family's makeshift shelter at Ifo Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya.
Photo by Kate Holt/Africa Practice
Print | Save
A sister and brother sit on a plastic container outside their family's makeshift shelter at Ifo Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya. Photo by Kate Holt/Africa Practice
On the outskirts of the Ifo Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya, Somali women learn to grow their own crops.
Photo by Kate Holt/Africa Practice
Print | Save
On the outskirts of the Ifo Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya, Somali women learn to grow their own crops. Photo by Kate Holt/Africa Practice
To minimise environmental impact, Myanmar refugees construct and repair their houses with materials provided by the Thailand Burma Border Consortium.
Photo from Act for Peace
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To minimise environmental impact, Myanmar refugees construct and repair their houses with materials provided by the Thailand Burma Border Consortium. Photo from Act for Peace
In Myanmar, the Longyi Weaving Project assists women living in refugee camps to maintain and develop traditional skills and earn an income.
Photo from TBBC
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In Myanmar, the Longyi Weaving Project assists women living in refugee camps to maintain and develop traditional skills and earn an income. Photo from TBBC
Nirangini carried bricks, sand and water to rebuild her home in northern Sri Lanka.
Viyan Fernando/Caritas Sri Lanka
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Nirangini carried bricks, sand and water to rebuild her home in northern Sri Lanka. Viyan Fernando/Caritas Sri Lanka
Thavalogini stands inside the shell of her home, which is being rebuilt through an DFAT-funded project in partnership with UN Habitat.
Photo by Conor Ashleigh for DFAT
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Thavalogini stands inside the shell of her home, which is being rebuilt through an DFAT-funded project in partnership with UN Habitat. Photo by Conor Ashleigh for DFAT