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Refugee or migrant: what's the difference?


Refugee or migrant: what's the difference?

“What is the difference between migrants and refugees?”, asks Panos in Athens. “Are all the European countries applying the same procedures to deal with them?”

The answer is from Jean-François Ploquin, Director of the French NGO Forum Réfugiés:

“Migrants by definition are people who go from one place to another, refugees are those who do it because they are seeking protection because they flee a major risk to their lives or physical integrity and who seek refuge – this protection they do not have in their countries of origin.

“The definition of refugee is a written text that’s already old – the Geneva Convention of 1951. It was produced during the postwar period. Today 145 states in the world have ratified it. This Refugee Convention provides for a person who is persecuted or fears persecution for reasons related to race, religion, nationality and membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Those are the categories included in the Convention.

“On top of that, states are free to add additional protection instruments. For example, in France there is a “subsidiary protection” that will protect people who are victims of a situation of generalized violence.

“For 15 years, the European Union member states have been trying to develop a common European system. This goes through a set of key directives. There is, for example, a directive called “procedure” which determines the conditions of examination of an asylum application.

This ‘procedure’ directive was revised two years ago and the new version it comes into effect on July 20.”

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