Some useful definitions:

Asylum: the grant, by a State, of protection on its territory to persons from another State who are fleeing persecution or serious danger. A  person who is granted asylum is a refugee. Asylum encompasses a variety of elements, including permission to remain on the territory of the asylum country, and humane standards of treatment.

Asylum seeker: a third country national or stateless person who has made an application for international protection in respect of which a final decision has not yet been taken by the competent national authorities.

Convention relating to the Status of Refugees: a Convention that establishes legal standards for the protection of refugees. The Convention was adopted in July 1951 and entered into force in April 1954. To date, there are 137 States who are parties to the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol.

De facto refugee: someone accepted as a refugee because of the circumstances of their country of origin, without having to prove individual persecution.

Detention: confinement within a narrowly bounded or restricted location, including prisons, closed camps, detention facilities or airport transit zones, where freedom of movements if substantially curtailed, and where the only opportunity to leave this limited area is to leave the territory.

Local integration: when it is not safe for refugees to return home after a prolonged period in exile, a host government may decide to allow refugees to integrate locally, in the first-asylum country.

Migrant: A person who has left his country with the intention of settling in another country.

Non-refoulement: a core principle of refugee law that prohibits States from returning refugees in any manner whatsoever to countries or territories in which their lives or freedom may be threatened. The principle of non-refoulement is part of customary international law and is therefore binding on all States, whether or not they are parties to the 1951 Convention. Preventing asylum seekers from entering territory to ask for refuge is a violation of the principle of non-refoulement.

: generally refers to any severe violation of human rights. In the refugee context, ‘persecution’ refers to any act which fundamental rights are severely violated for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.
Refoulement: the removal of a person to territory where she/he would be at risk of being persecuted, or of being moved to another territory where she/he would face persecution. Refoulement constitutes a violation of the principle of non-refoulement, and is therefore a breach of refugee law and of customary international law. This includes turning back people who turn up at the airport without valid documents.

Recognised refugee: Someone who has fled his or her country because he fears persecution based on race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion. Recognised refugees are granted protection by governments under the provisions of the 1951 Convention.

Refugee status determination procedures: legal and administrative procedures undertaken by UNHCR and/or States to determine whether an individual should be recognised as a refugee in accordance with national and international law.

Rejected asylum seeker: A third country national or stateless person whose application for international protection has been examined and rejected by a final decision of the competent authorities.

Repatriation/reintegration: the process by which refugees resume a normal life in their country of origin. Ideally, reintegration should follow from the durable solution of voluntary repatriation.

Resettlement: the transfer of refugees from the country in which they have sought refuge to another State that has agreed to admit them. The refugees will usually be granted asylum or some other for of long-term resident rights and, in many cases, will have the opportunity to become naturalised citizens.

Subsidiary protection: A form of international protection given to those whose application for refugee status has been dismissed but who, it has been shown, will face a real risk of serious harm if returned to their country of origin. 'Serious harm' is defined by law as: death penalty or execution; torture or inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment; threats to life by indiscriminate violence in international or internal armed conflicts.

Tolerated stay: Term used to refer to the situation of migrants against whom a Removal Order has been issued, who are then issued with a temporary permit to stay as immediate removal is not possible due to logistical difficulties or other legal or practical obstacles. It is not a formal status established by law, but rather an administrative response to a practical reality. As their presence is acknowledged by the immigration authorities and they are granted a permit to stay temporarily, these migrants cannot be considered to be in an irregular or illegal situation. Rejected asylum seekers released from detention in line with government policy are one such category of migrants.

Voluntary repatriation: When conditions in the home country have changed so much that refugees no longer believe their lives or liberty are threatened, so they may return home voluntarily.

UNHCR: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. UNHCR is mandated to co-ordinate the worldwide protection of refugees.

Undocumented/irregular/illegal immigrant: All terms used to describe a vast category of people who travel from one country to another in an irregular or clandestine matter, as well as those whose stay in a country is illegal, meaning not according to national and international laws and regulations governing travel and stay.

Unaccompanied minors: children under 18 years of age who have been separated from both parents and are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, is responsible to do so. Many unaccompanied minors are refugees or displaced people.

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