Refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers, stateless persons – these are all terms used to describe people forced to flee their homes. However, each term refers to a specific group of people. As of 2015, there were 60 million people worldwide who fall into one of these categories – double the population of Canada!
In 2014, conflict and persecution forced an average of 42,500 persons per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere.
Refugee: people who are outside the country of their nationality "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted" (1951 Refugee Convention). Refugees are entitled to international protection and assistance. There were 19.5 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2014, approximately 2.9 million more than in 2013.
Internally displaced persons: people who have fled their homes but have not crossed an international border. Approximately 38.2 million people were forcibly uprooted and displaced within their own country according to numbers published in 2015.
Asylum seeker: a person who is seeking protection as a refugee and is still waiting to have his/her claim assessed. Because they have not been recognized as refugees, they are not protected under international law and face the possibility of being sent back to their country of origin.
Stateless person: A stateless person is someone who is not considered a national by any state. Stateless persons have no government ID cards. As such opening bank accounts, going to school, finding work or travelling are difficult if not impossible. a Statelessness can occur for a variety of reasons: discrimination against certain groups; redrawing of borders; and gaps in nationality laws. The UNHCR estimates that 10 million people worldwide are stateless.