What Is a Refugee?

What Is a Refugee?


We often hear the term “refugee” in the news when there are conflicts in a particular country or region, but do we really understand what that term means and why it is used? Most people generally view refugees as persons fleeing a certain situation in order to find safety. While that is true, there are distinctions and definitions that differentiate refugees from other displaced persons and affect how they are protected. In this article, we’ll explain what a refugee is and why the distinction is so important.


What Does Refugee Mean?


We’re familiar with the term, but who are refugees, and what does being a refugee mean? A refugee is someone who has fled their home country and crossed an international border due to conflict, war, famine, climate change, or fear of persecution based on religion, politics, race, nationality, and more. The home countries of these individuals are either unwilling or unable to provide the protection needed in order to live safely.


Refugees are protected under international law that was established in the 1951 Refugee Convention. The Convention outlined the definition of the term “refugee”, the rights they hold, the obligation of other countries to protect refugees, and the principle of non-refoulement, which states that refugees should not be forced to return to a country where their life and freedom are threatened.


As of June 2022, there are over 89 million individuals around the world who have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Of those, 27.1 million people are refugees.


The various ongoing conflicts in the Middle East have resulted in many refugees seeking safety in other countries. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are over 5.8 million Palestinian refugees and 6.8 million Syrian refugees. Many of these individuals don’t have reliable access to the things they need to survive each day—water, food, shelter, and medical care—and rely on assistance from governments and other organizations.


The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) continues to provide humanitarian aid to children and their families—some of whom are refugees fleeing their home countries—through our hospitals, pediatric medical programs, health initiatives, hospital infrastructure projects, orphan and refugee sponsorships, and medical missions. These efforts help to ensure that children in need get the vital assistance they require.


PCRF has a committee of volunteer pediatricians on our Medical Advisory Board who are dedicated to building up services through training, programs, and guiding PCRF to improve the quality of pediatric care in Palestine. This includes providing surgery for children who have scoliosis.

PCRF is not a political or religious organization. Our mission is to provide medical and humanitarian relief collectively and individually to Arab children throughout the Middle East, regardless of their nationality, politics, or religion. We rely on charitable giving to provide medical treatment, surgeries, safety, shelter, and support to children and their families in Palestine and the Levant. Find out how you can get involved and help make a difference in children’s lives today!