Q:

What causes people to become refugees?

A:

There are several conditions that may lead to people becoming refugees, including warfare, political instability and natural disasters such as floods, tsunamis and famines. Refugees are defined as people who must leave their homes or native areas for reasons of safety and survival. Natural and man-made disasters can cause large segments of the population to flee from their native states, regions and countries into neighboring territories to wait temporarily until it is safe to move back home, or relocate for good.

The issue of refugees was first addressed by the United Nations, which established rules and regulations in 1951, via a document called the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which defined the term “refugee” and set forth laws governing the control and resettlement of displaced people.

The Convention was enacted initially to provide guidance for host nations that saw large influxes of people forced to leave their homelands during World War II. Although the Convention was initially established for creating policies for World War II refugees, its use was expanded during the late 1960s to include refugees displaced by other reasons such as natural disasters and marginalization. Although refugees are found in many countries throughout the world, the top three hosts of refugees are Pakistan, Thailand and Cambodia, according to National Geographic.


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