I wish you’d just ask me, “what is a refugee?”

Refugees and asylum seekers come looking for sanctuary.

This article was first posted in our Refugee Week blog, on June 3, 2010. 

As a refugee, I find people are always interested in where I’m from and why I’m here. They ask: “Why did you come to Glasgow?” 

They don’t understand that I didn’t ever choose to come here. I fled my country looking for safety, and when I applied for asylum in Britain, the UK Border Agency sent me to this Scottish city – a place that I’d never heard of but which has become home.

Here for anyone who doesn’t know are the definitions of a refugee and asylum seeker. I’m hoping it helps people understand….

Under the United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees from 1951, a Refugee is a person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, membership of particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of their nationality, is unable to or, owing to such a fear, is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country.

Until a request for refuge has been accepted, the person is referred to as an asylum seeker.

Refugees were defined as a legal group in response to the large numbers of people fleeing Eastern Europe following World War II. As of December 31, 2005, the largest source countries of refugees were Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Sudan and Palestinian Territories.

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