Who is a Refugee?
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Who is a Refugee?
Monday, January 01, 1900

Objectives: Students will be able to:

1. Express the UN's definition of a refugee as delineated in the 1951 Geneva Convention and 1967 Protocol in their own words.
2. Express the Catholic Church’s definition of a refugee. 
3. Distinguish among refugees, internally displaced persons(IDPs) and asylum seekers.
4. Compare refugee movements in biblical times with movements in the 20th and 21st centuries.
5. Identify four major movements of refugees into the United States.
6. Explain the role of the Holocaust in creating post-World War II policy for the treatment of refugees. 
7. Describe the impact of 20th and 21st Century wars on creation of refugees and IDP populations, particularly as a result of WWII,Vietnam War, and wars of ethnic cleansing in Europe (Bosnia), Africa and Asia. 


What distinguishes refugees from internally displaced people (IDPs)? • UNHCR's role in determination of status
• The Catholic Church’s definition of a refugee  and the special significance this distinct definition has for JRS work across the globe. (See Appendix V.) 
• JRS definition of a refugee.
• Undocumented aliens in the U.S. – refugees, asylum seekers or economic migrants?

Examples of asylum seekers and IDPs

• Cubans fleeing the Castro regime.
• Haitians seeking better opportunities outside their impoverished nation.
• Colombians seeking ability to love in peace.

Groups that help asylum seekers in U.S.

• CLINIC – Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
• Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

Information for asylum seekers in the U.S.

• The USCIS and Guide to Being Granted Asylum in the U.S.
• Resource page at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

What impact has persecution had on forcing people to seek refuge in new lands?

• In Biblical times Hebrews fled Egypt in search of freedom in a Promised Land. 
• Religious dissenters fled from England and France to the New World.  
• Political dissenters left Europe in the mid-19th Century. 
• 20th Century warfare displaced millions from Europe, Asia and Africa.

Examples of the impact of persecution:

• French Huguenots: Protestants driven out. 
• Irish Famine Refugees (movie available on Netflix): 1840s victims of the blight which destroyed potato crop.  
• Holocaust Survivors: World War II victims, primarily refers to European Jews. 
• Chin Christians flee from Burma/Myanmar. 

Guest Speakers

Invite a guest speaker from JRS to discuss JRS' mission and work, stories and important points or
• CLINIC staff member – stories about defending migrants. Or, 
• Holocaust survivor or relative to share experiences, or (Appendix II)
• a Cuban-American driven out by Castro.


• Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants - a Vatican document from the Pontifical Council forrefugees  
• UNHCR 1951 Refugee Convention text.   
• UNHCR's "Internally Displaced People: Questions & Answers" (PDF)


• Charter of Jesuit Refugee Service.   
• UNHCR Pictorial History


Should we care about IDPs and asylum seekers in the same way that we care for refugees? 
• Is our compassion limited to those people who are farther removed from us geographically?  
• Asylum seekers fear that their lives are at risk in their native lands.  
• Students: reflect on family history to ascertain what brought your ancestors to U.S.  
• 21st Century refugees – Is there a difference? 
What has been the impact of 200 years of refugees on our current thinking? 
• The United States is a land of refugees and immigrants. 
  —the U.S. offers resettlement in the U.S. to refugees from other lands. 
  —the U.S. treatment of undocumented aliens who may or may not be asylum seekers. 
• The Holocaust of World War II creates policy for the treatment of refugees.  
• 20th and 21st Century warfare creates millions of refugees and IDP populations. 


• Bookmark CLINIC website
• Download UNHCR “My Life as a Refugee” mobile app  
• Compare the UN and Catholic positions on refugees. Under which definition would a person find it easier to gain acceptance in a new country? Explain why.
• Write articles for either school or local newspapers.
• Bookmark UNHCR website to raise awareness about refugees.
• Contact local interest group on refugees in community.
• What have you learned? What do you think should be done?  Evaluation

Small group: students identify individuals as refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants and IDPs. 
Student evaluation of the lesson — small group work and relate to class.