Refugee or migrant? / 5 ways to support them

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Refugee or migrant? It’s complicated

The 1951 UN Refugee Convention gives legal protection to people who are escaping persecution and war. But it is not easy to say this about some people.

Many people we call ‘economic’ migrants come from countries like Pakistan, Mali or Nigeria. Their countries are not ‘at war’, but there is a lot of insecurity and violence.

They decide to leave their country for many reasons – high unemployment, natural disasters, inequality – and what they see as inequality – between countries and regions, and political violence.

Many refugees are leaving war in their countries. But they are are moving on from countries where they found safety but not stability or good lives eg. Syrians in the Middle East. The UN says that 90 per cent of refugees in Lebanon now have a lot of debt. Also in this group are Eritreans in Sudan and Ethiopia and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

So how can we update and expand the Convention to protect these people?

5 ways you can support migrants and refugees


1 Support work on the borders

Direct, practical, immediate support (food, shelter and medical care) to help in Calais, Greece, along the Balkan refugee route. You can raise money, collect clothes and other things and volunteer. Calais (UK), Lesvos (Greece), Doctors of the World

2 Volunteer at home


Make friends with, welcome and support asylum-seekers and migrants in your area. Find local groups. Refugees Welcome (EU), give a welcome dinner (Australia), City of Sanctuary (UK), Canadian Council for Refugees

3 Advocate (support and defend)


Fight against the laws and policies that can kill people. Write letters, demonstrate and put pressure on your government representatives. Amnesty International, Refugees International, RISE (Australia), (US),

4 Take direct action

Direct action to protest against militarized borders. The Welcome to Europe network, No Border Network (both these groups also do 1 & 3).

5 Read, share, spread, defend

Change what people think about migration. Get the right information, tell other people, talk about migrants and migration in a positive way.

See these sites and TED talks:

Lampedusa Charter (Europe):

Indigènes de la République (Canada):

Migrant Rights Network (UK):

Migreurop network (EU):

‘Imagining a world without borders’ TEDxEastEnd

‘A world without border controls in a century’ TEDxEastEnd

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL OF THIS AND THE REST OF THE ARTICLE: (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).