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Modern Day

Modern day conflicts examining the definition of: Refugees

An overview for teachers –

There are millions of refugees living in the world today as a result of many conflicts. They live in varying conditions, from well-established camps and collective centres to makeshift shelters in the open. Conflicts arise for a variety of reasons. It is not always two opposing nations fighting but people of differing ethnic, politic or religious beliefs fighting within the same country. For example, the conflict in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Rwanda, Syria, Somalia and Myanmar.

The impact on individuals, families and communities is huge and often the basic rights of children is abused at these times. For a clear overview of the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child refer to this document.

You might like to watch this short Australian animation that explain what rights are with your class.

Many refugees are living in rural settings, but the number of urban refugees is growing. They all face three possible solutions:

  • Repatriation
  • Local integration
  • Resettlement

In Britain today there are many people who have come here to live because it is a place of safety. People have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict within their country. They have now settled and made new lives for themselves in our society.

Definition of an Economic Migrant:
Economic migrants are choosing to move to a new country in order to improve future prospects, whereas refugees have to leave to protect themselves from persecution.

Definition of a Refugee:
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…’ (Definition quoted from the 1951 Refugee Convention)

Definition of an Asylum seeker:
An asylum seeker is someone who has lodged an application for protection within a country.

A Nation’s Choice

In 1938, the world community was faced with a dilemma:
What was the appropriate response to the German government’s ruthless treatment of the Jewish population under its control?

Discuss as a class, and establish criteria for deciding when a nation should come to the defence of a people persecuted by another government. Also discuss if you think that British people any more or less sympathetic to the plight of refugees today?

Key questions to consider/debate in class or research further:

  • What dilemmas confront people fleeing political oppression today?
  • Are there effective support networks for people who are in trouble today?
  • Why do people need to hide their identity?
  • What are the connections between the Jewish refugees of 1938 and the experiences of children living in Birmingham today?
  • Who is affected most during times of conflict?
  • Who tells the truth about war and its effects on families and communities?



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