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Facts About Refugees and Seeking Asylum

Sometimes, during Edge training courses a question may arise about a person that is seeking asylum or has been granted refugee status. For key facts about the difference between asylum and refugee status, refugee action provides an excellent resource available here. We have reproduced some of this below:

Key Facts:

UN Refugee Convention states the definition of a refugee is someone who: ‘owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country’ (Article 1, 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees). What is an asylum seeker? The definition of an asylum seeker is someone who has arrived in a country and asked for asylum. Until they receive a decision as to whether or not they are a refugee, they are known as an asylum seeker. In the UK, this means they do not have the same rights as a refugee or a British citizen would. For example, people seeking asylum aren’t allowed to work. Can you be an 'illegal' asylum seeker? The right to seek asylum is a legal right we all share. It isn’t illegal to seek asylum, because seeking asylum is a legal process. It also isn’t illegal to be refused asylum – it just means you haven’t been able to meet the very strict criteria to prove your need for protection as a refugee. Do people have to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach? No. The 1951 Refugee Convention does not require a person to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. People trying to cross the Channel can legitimately claim asylum in the UK if they reach it.

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