Seeking Protection

A blog exploring what we can learn from the experiences of refugees before, during and after the Holocaust – for today


To be clear about our understanding of certain concepts and words, please see the below definitions, as used by Roads to Refuge. Whilst the use of proper terms is important, we are aware that these words are often used interchangeably and cannot ensure that resources or contributions featured on our blog will use these definitions consistently.

An asylum seeker is a person who has fled from his or her own country due to fear of persecution and has applied for (legal and physical) protection in another country but has not yet had their claim for protection assessed. A person remains an asylum seeker until their protection ‘status’ has been determined.

An internally displaced person is someone who is living inside the borders of their own country, but is unable to safely live in their own home or region.

A migrant is someone who voluntarily chooses to leave his or her own country and make a new life in another country.

is the severe abuse and denial of the human rights of individuals or groups. Fear of persecution is the basis of refugee claims. Persecution occurs when human rights violations or threats are sustained or systematic and governments either fail to protect their citizens or, in some cases, actively participate in the violations. It may happen because a person holds a particular political opinion or religious belief, or belongs to a particular ethnic or social group.

A refugee is a person who has fled his or her own country and cannot return due to fear of persecution, and has been given refugee status. Refugee status is given to applicants by the United Nations or by a third party country.

According to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, as amended by its 1967 Protocol, a refugee is a person who is:

  • outside their own country and
  • has a well-founded fear of persecution due to his/her race, religion, nationality, member of a particular social group or political opinion, and is
  • unable or unwilling to return

A stateless person is someone who does not have a nationality recognised by any country.

For more information, we recommend these links:

UNHCR – FAQs about ‘Refugees’ and ‘Migrants’

UNHCR – Refugee or Migrant? Word choice matters

UNHCR – Asylum Seekers

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