Refugees and IDPs
© 1994 Roger Job
Armed conflicts and other tense situations often cause large population movements, as individuals flee persecution or violence. A refugee is a civilian who, no longer receiving protection from his or her own government, crosses a national border to escape the conflict or persecution.
Refugees are protected by international law. According to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee 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 his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."
© 2003 Livio Senigalliesi
Since 1951, this definition has been broadened-in both official and informal ways. Notably, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the body responsible for refugees, extended the definition to include people fleeing in small groups or en masse from a collective danger, such as insecurity or war, rather than treating each individual on a case-by-case basis.
An IDP, or internally displaced person, is a person who has also fled his or her home because of conflict but has not crossed an international border. He or she remains under the jurisdiction of national authorities and thus is not a refugee. IDPs do not benefit from any specific protection under international law.
MSF Refugees/IDPs Information
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)