Refugees or Migrants?

Refugees or Migrants?

By Siegrid Raible

The front page article in the New York Times of June 18, 2015 read “60 Million People Fleeing Chaotic Lands, UN says.” Somini Sengupta wrote “Nearly 60 million people have been driven from their homes by war and persecution, an unprecedented global exodus that has burdened fragile countries with waves of newcomers and littered deserts and seas with bodies of those who died trying to reach safety.” What a staggering number! Are these refugees or migrants? Most reporters refer to these individuals as migrants.

Migrant is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as “1. One that moves from one region to another by chance, instinct or plan. 2. An itinerant worker who travels from one area to another in search of work.” The same dictionary defines refugee as “A person who flees usually to another country for refuge, esp. from invasion, oppression or persecution.” I would unequivocally call these 60 million souls refugees.

The United Nations has its own confusing legal definition and distinctions as to who qualifies as a refugee, asylum seeker or displaced person. I would argue that its definitions and/or distinctions are confusing for a reason; the reason – protection and access to services is contingent on receiving refugee status. The world governing body and its member nations have abrogated their responsibility by failing to classify these 60 million souls fleeing conflict and persecution as refugees in need of protection and access to services.

It’s time to stop mincing words and address the problem of the increasing tide of humanity fleeing death and destruction because there but for time and place go you or I.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *