Forced to flee all you know

Bus in front of a signpost  c. Jenny Wicks  ongoing use   0001  121
Forced to flee all you know

Like many people, you may have decided to leave your home town, city or country in search of a new experience, better job or different way of life.  You probably contemplated this life changing moment, deliberated over the pros and cons, and had the comfort of choosing where you would go, when you would leave and how you would get there.

Distinctly, this is not the case for people who are forced to flee their home countries to seek asylum in another unknown country.  There is no choice in the matter.  Simply, leaving is replaced with fleeing. Escape is a matter of life and death.

No choice in the matter

Imagine how you would feel if tomorrow you had to flee your home and leave your family because you feared for your safety - for your life.  Worse, you could not return unless the conditions that forced you to leave changed for the better.  

For most it’s incomprehensible. And yet, people seeking asylum are forced to flee their own country due to ethnic, tribal and religious violence, political persecution or because they are a member of a particular social group.

Where do Refugees come from?

People seeking asylum can come from every corner of the world; generally this changes depending on what is happening at a particular time in a specific country. In 2008 the top ten refugee producing countries included Eritrea, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Iraq, Iran, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Nigeria.   All of these countries have poor human rights records or ongoing conflict.

Which countries offer safety and sanctuary to Refugees?

The facts, fiction and debate about people seeking asylum is often blurred by stories, myths and misconceptions.  And while some wrongly assume that UK is taking on too many asylum seekers and refugees, in reality it is home to less than two per cent of the world’s refugees – out of 16 million worldwide.

About 80 per cent of the world’s refugees are living in developing countries, often in camps. Between them, Africa and Asia host more than three quarters of the world’s refugees. Europe looks after just 14 per cent.

Sobering facts worth remembering - because people seeking asylum have not had the luxury of choice, have been forced from their countries and are seeking a safe place to call home.

Find out more about global trends for refugees and asylum seekers in the UNHCR's 2008 report.

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