A refugee is defined as a person who is outside the borders of his or her country of nationality and is unable or unwilling to return, due to a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
- According to UNHCR statistics there were 10.4 million refugees worldwide at the beginning of 2011.
- An additional 26 million people are displaced within their own national borders.
- War is one of the major causes of the displacement of civilians, with most refugees coming from war-zones such as Iraq, Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Eritrea and Sudan.
- An estimated 80% of displaced people are women and children, often drawn from the poorest sections of society.
- Conditions in the refugee camps where many displaced people spend long periods of time are often unsafe, with food shortages and a lack of shelter and healthcare. Refugee camps may be targeted by warring groups.
- The majority of refugees are hosted in Asia and Africa, where resources to provide for their needs are limited.
This problem is worsened by the fact that many first world states, including Australia, have regressed on their commitments to refugees by instituting restrictive border control measures. These measures include mandatory detention and forced repatriation of asylum seekers and jeopardize the security and wellbeing of refugees.