Refugee Jargon Explained

Refugees & migration is currently a hot topic in both politics & the media. Nevertheless, many ordinary civilians will struggle to understand the jargon used when discussing refugees & migration. Here is a quick reference to aid you understand the meaning of different words used when discussing the migration of refugees. Some words have been included which are self-explanatory because we have identified them as key words in both understanding & supporting refuges & the current refugee crisis.

Adaptation                                                         Process of modifying some or all of one’s beliefs &/or attitudes so as to suit new conditions of life. A change in cultural attitudes can be important for successful integration & to prevent isolation. Nevertheless, religious freedom, acceptance of cultural differences & personal identity are also essential  in order to maintain mental wellbeing, respect & unified society.

Administrative Aid                                           Assistance with interpreting official documents & regulations.

Admission                                                           Admitting refugees &/or other non-nationals according to the legal procedure in force in the receiving country. This may be under immigration law or refugee law.

Agents of Persecution                                   A person or group of people who are directly responsible for threats or infliction of harm, who may be operating with approval from the State

Alienation                                                           Feeling estranged or separated from their environment, work, destiny or self. They may feel powerless, culturally estranged or socially isolated. A sense of alienation can result in drastic consequences if suffered long term which subsequently may include poor mental health or retaliation.

Amnesty                                                              A legal guarantee that exempts a person /people from liability for criminal or political offenses. If respected & properly applied, an amnesty can help promote the voluntary repatriation of refugees.

Asylum                                                                 Protection granted by a State within its territory, against the exercise of jurisdiction by their State of origin, characterised by the enjoyment of internationally recognised refugee rights. Asylum is usually provided without a time limit.

Averting Flight                                                   Preventing potential refugees from leaving their home country.

Basic Human Needs                                        Nutritional food sufficient to prevent malnutrition, clean water, clothing, shelter, education & health care. Nevertheless, these are not always met, as currently seen in temporary refugee camps in Calais where the presence of official humanitarian providers is non-existent. This has led to ordinary civilians taking this duty into their own hands. Local projects like Care without Borders have successfully encouraged members of the local community to donate basic essential items & have safely shipped aid to vulnerable refugees in both Calais & Hungary. Nevertheless the lack of official support is currently preventing aid from reaching its maximum effect. This is due to a lack of coordination between small humanitarian projects, which could be achieved by professional humanitarian organisation. Small projects are also struggling with lack of resources including storage, packaging & transportation costs. If you are able to provide any of these resources please contact your local project. NREC is currently supporting Care without Borders, nevertheless there are similar projects currently taking place countrywide.

Basic Human Standards                                 The minimum treatment due to any person within the territory & jurisdiction of a State on the basis of general International Law. It is without a doubt that the majority of migrants currently fleeing war torn Syria are not receiving basic humane treatment in either Syria or the States they are seeking refuge in. Most lack shelter & it can be inadequate for those who do. States need to act more quickly to offer vulnerable refugees support.

Boat People                                                       People leaving countries in small boats. This was originally a derogative work used for Chinese migrants. Nevertheless, more recently it has been associated with refugees fleeing Syria & traveling across the Mediterranean in hope of safety. Unfortunately, this has led to significant amounts of refugees losing their lives due to drowning. Recently published pictures of small children’s bodies being swept ashore by the tides has been a very poignant topic which unveiled the true desperation of migrants seeking safety.

Compassion                                                       A sympathetic concern for the suffering & misfortune of others less fortunate than yourselves. Compassion has been demonstrated by amazing individual’s setting up refugee aid projects. Conversely, some politically-spun reports demonstrate a lack of compassion.

Country of First Asylum                                 Country in which a refugee arrives & in which they are deemed to have found protection from persecution & the opportunity for a durable solution in accordance with international law.

Deportation                                                       When a State exercises its sovereignty in removing a migrant from its territory to an alternative State after refusing them admission or terminating permission to remain.

Detention                                                           Restriction on freedom of movement, usually through enforced confinement, of persons prior to court appearance, pending a decision on refugee status or admission to or removal from the State. Immigration detention goes against NREC’s ethos which is why we support campaigns to close Yarls Wood Detention Centre in Bedfordshire.

Dual-Labour Market                                       Labour market in which members of dominant ethnic groups)occupy primarily better paying & skilled jobs within major industries while ethnically underrepresented people are primarily placed in low paid word. NREC promote equal pay & opportunities for all members of society. We have participated in campaigns to promote equal pay by closing the gender gap. We also encourage positive action to improve the opportunities available to members of underrepresented communities. This is essential in order to achieve true equality & balance.

Durable solutions                                             Satisfactory situation which enables the refugee to integrate into a society; traditionally three durable solutions are promoted: repatriation, local settlement & resettlement.

Environmental refugees                                    People displaced as a result of sudden, drastic environmental changes. For example hurricanes or tsunamis.

Expulsion                                                             A State’s right to forcibly remove a migrant from their territory.

Famine                                                                 Serious shortage of food caused by natural & man-made disasters. Without adequate aid & support these vulnerable people could be at risk of slow & painful deaths or long term health issues. Starvation can cause side effects such as anemia, muscle wasting & a bloated stomach.

Forced Migration                                             Involuntary movement from place of residence. This phrase is frequently used to signify the presence of coercion, which may include threats to life or livelihood arising from natural or man-made causes.

Holding Centres                                               Centres gathering refugees as soon as they arrive in a receiving country; their status is to be determined before they are sent to refugee camps or back to their country.

Human Security                                               Protection of the vital core of all human lives from critical & pervasive environmental, economic, food, health, personal & political threats. It goes without saying that this is critical in preserving human rights.

Humanitarian Access                                      Access to war affected areas in order to assist civilian victims.

Humanitarian Admission                               Humanitarian admission is an expedited process providing protection in a third country for refugees in greatest need in the region. Residence under humanitarian admission may be either permanent or temporary depending upon State legislation.

Humanitarian Assistance                              Assistance provided by the international community to cope with the sufferings & immediate needs of refugees & nationals in an emergency situation. For example Care without Borders.

Humanitarian Cases                                        Asylum seekers who, for humanitarian or compassionate reasons, are allowed to remain in the country of refuge. To successfully seek asylum you must match the definition of a refugee as set out in the Convention on the Status of Refugees . This stipulates that a person must have a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of nationality on the basis of at least one of five grounds.

  1. Race
  2. Religion
  3. Nationality
  4. Member of a social group
  5. Political opinion

Your success will depend on whether the Home Office believes your account & whether they believe that there is a reasonable risk that you will receive some form of serious harm, rather than just some harassment & relatively minor intimidation if you return to your country of origin. Unfortunately, it is a refugee’s responsibility to prove their case, if they do not believe you they will usually refuse your claim.

Humanity                                                            The quality of being humane which may include acts of charity, compassion & kindness.

Internal Displacement                                   Involuntary movement of people or population groups inside a country owing to natural or man-made disaster, such as famine, drought or internal conflict.

Internal Disturbances                                     Prolonged serious confrontation within a country involving acts of violence.

Internal Flight Alternative                            The possibility for an individual to escape persecution or danger by moving to another part of the country instead of crossing an international frontier.

International Assistance                             Support provided by the international community such as assistance in kind, financial contributions & services of trained personnel in order to bring solutions to refugee crisis.

Intolerance                                                         Unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own. Tolerance is essential in order to build a positive community spirit where everyone feels valued and respected. Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council regularly receives reports from victims of hate crime within Northamptonshire, demonstrating that an unacceptable level of intolerance remains within Northamptonshire.

Location of Camps                                           Refugee camps should be located away from the border & in an environment that ensures the safety & material well-being of the refugee population, unlike Calais.

Non-state agents of persecution                     People or organizations responsible for acts or threats of persecution who are not under governmental control.

Persecution                                                        Although this term could be included in the broader concept of human rights violations, it constitutes the cornerstone of the refugee definition & therefore is reserved for use in the context of refugee status determination.

Post-flight reasons for persecution          Actions of the asylum seekers or events occurring after the flight from the country of origin, which can form the basis for a claim to be in fear of persecution, or which can add to or substantiate a previously existing claim.

Post-traumatic stress                                     Refugees fleeing persecution can experience PTS which is triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. They may experience symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts about the traumatic event.

Prejudice                                                             Attitude which predisposes a person to think, perceive, feel, act in a certain way.  Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council believe that prejudice can be reduced through many positive actions including education, diversity and integration.

Protracted refugee situations                    Situations in which refugees find themselves in a long-lasting & intractable state of limbo. They are characterized by on-going problems in the country of origin.  There may be restrictions on refugee movement, employment possibilities & confinement to camps.

Rape                                                                      Rape is used as a military strategy in war to destabilise communities and sow terror. “Survivors face emotional torment, psychological damage, physical injuries, disease, social ostracism and many other consequences that can devastate their lives,” (Amnesty)

Refoulement                                                     The return by one State, of an individual to the territory of another State in which they may be persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion; or would run the risk of torture. Refoulement includes any action having the effect of returning the individual to a State, including expulsion, deportation, extradition, rejection at the frontier, extra-territorial interception & physical return. The prohibition of refoulement of refugees  is laid down by Article 33 CSR51 & is considered to be part of customary international law.

Refugee aid & development                       Approach which links projects allowing refugees to become self-productive, with the development of economic & social structures of the local community, in order to alleviate the additional burden produced by large numbers of refugees in low-income countries.

Refugee experiences                                     Relations & testimonies of refugees about the reasons for their flight, their exodus, their life in camps & their experience during the resettlement process.

Refugee impact                                               Impact of refugees on the receiving country.

Refugee processing centres                        Centres where refugees, once selected for resettlement, are gathered in order to receive the orientation & language training which will help them to face their new life.

Refugee-related declarations                     Declarations adopted at the international level either by a conference or an intergovernmental body on the interpretation or application of refugee law.

Refugee                                                               A PERSON who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Refugees in orbit                                             Refugees who, although not returned directly to a country where they may be persecuted, are denied asylum or unable to find a State willing to examine their request, & are shuttled from one country to another in a constant search for asylum.

Refugees in transit                                          Refugees who are temporarily admitted in the territory of a State under the condition that they are resettled elsewhere.

Resettlement                                                    Resettlement involves the selection & transfer of refugees from a State in which they have sought protection to a third State which has agreed to admit them as refugees with permanent residence status.

Safe country of origin                                     An asylum seekers country of origin is considered safe if it does not produce refugees. Receiving countries may use the concept of safe country of origin as a basis for rejecting summarily (without examination of the merits) particular groups or categories of asylum seekers.

Safety zones                                                    Zones established in a country to protect the civilian population in times of conflict. May also be used to describe measures, often taken internally, to restrict potential refugee outflows. Safety zones may assist in relieving suffering; ensure personal security & material wellbeing.

Self-help projects                                            Projects undertaken by refugees which generally consist of unpaid work such as building houses, wells, roads & cultivating land.

Smuggling of persons                                     The procurement of illegal entry of a person into another State for the purpose of financial or other material benefit. This can include falsifying documentation.

Starvation                                                           The most extreme form of malnutrition which can lead to death of persons who are facing a famine situation due to organ failure.

Territorial asylum                                             Protection granted by a State, in the normal exercise of its territorial sovereignty, to persons in its territory, against jurisdiction by their State of origin.

Torture                                                                 “Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”

Trafficking in persons                                     The transportation of persons, by means of any form of coercion, for the purpose of exploitation, in particular sexual exploitation or forced labour.

Wage-earning settlements                          Settlements where refugees are expected to become self-sufficient through work.

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