Every year, millions of people are forced to flee their homes and their countries to escape war, human rights abuse, exploitation and persecution. Often, they are not able to return home. 

Who is a refugee?

The 1951 Refugee Convention defines a refugee as someone 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."

Refugees have no protection from their own state and must move in order to save their lives and preserve their freedom. Often it is the refugee’s own country which is threatening them.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are 59.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide.

At the end of 2014, there were 19.5 million registered refugees globally, and the UNHCR was assisting or protecting 46.7 million people around the world.  

The following links provide resources and information about the current refugee crisis and Canada’s response. 

Immigrant Services Society of BC – Overview of the refugee situation in Canada.

UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency – Up-to-date information and statistics about global refugee crises.

Centre for Refugee Studies, York University  – Research, events, programs relating to forced migration and refugees.

Council for Refugees – A national organization committed to the rights and protection of refugees and other vulnerable migrant groups in Canada.

Photo by: Russell Watkins/UK Department for International Development , "Syrian primary school children attending catch-up learning classes in Lebanon." Public domain, 7 July 2014.