What Leads to Individuals Becoming Refugees?

Quck answer

Refugees are people who are forced to flee their homes due to various factors. The main causes of people becoming refugees include:

1. Conflict and war: Armed conflicts and wars are major drivers of displacement. Ongoing conflicts, civil wars, and political instability force people to leave their homes in search of safety and protection.

2. Persecution and human rights abuses: Individuals facing persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, or membership in a particular social group may become refugees. They flee their countries to escape persecution and seek asylum elsewhere.

3. Environmental disasters: Natural disasters such as floods, droughts, hurricanes, and earthquakes can displace people from their homes. Climate change and its consequences, including rising sea levels and extreme weather events, are increasingly contributing to displacement.

4. Economic hardships: Poverty, lack of job opportunities, and economic instability can also push people to leave their countries in search of better economic prospects and a higher standard of living.

5. Lack of basic services and infrastructure: When countries fail to provide essential services like healthcare, education, and sanitation, people may be forced to seek refuge in other countries where these necessities are more readily available.

It is important to address these root causes and work towards peace, stability, and economic development to prevent further displacement and provide support to those who have already become refugees.

Are you attentive to current events? Certain individuals read the newspaper, while others watch it on TV. Many people check the news online. It is crucial to stay informed about the events happening in the world around you.

You may have noticed that many headlines today highlight negative news. Stories about acts of kindness often go unnoticed. Good things do happen every day. However, the sad reality is that bad things also occur. Numerous regions around the world are torn apart by violence and war. The primary concern for many people in such areas is simply staying alive.

In some cases, individuals living in war-torn countries are forced to flee their homes. They leave behind most of their possessions and often must part ways with friends and family members. These individuals escape from their home countries and become refugees.

Refugees are individuals who leave their home countries due to conflict or persecution. What causes people to become refugees? There are various causes, including war, violence, or fear of persecution. Threats based on nationality, religion, race, political opinion, or membership in a particular group can lead people to become refugees.

Refugees often have to leave their homes with little or no warning. Sometimes, they only have enough time to pack a few belongings. Additionally, the journey to a foreign country can be extremely challenging. In some cases, individuals who flee only move to a safer location within their own country. When individuals flee but do not cross an international border, they are referred to as internally displaced persons. Regardless of whether people are fleeing to another country or a different part of their own country, the journey can be arduous.

If you watched the video in today’s image and video gallery, you heard the testimony of Live Wesige. In 1994, when Wesige was a young boy, he fled Rwanda with his father and younger siblings. The family was escaping the Rwandan genocide. At that time, over a million other refugees also left Rwanda. The family sought refuge in a camp in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), where Wesige nearly died from cholera. He described living in the camp as a challenging and humbling experience. The lives of his family members were forever changed.

Being forced to leave one’s home under terrible circumstances is something that no one should have to endure. For refugees, the struggle often continues even after they reach a different country. The country they flee to may not be able to provide them with much assistance. Additionally, refugees often face prejudice and discrimination in their new homes.

Many countries accept a certain number of refugees each year. Those that do agree to provide the refugees with some basic services. These services were established by the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and were updated in 1967. Under this agreement, nations adhere to a set of legal protections for refugees. They also safeguard refugees’ social rights and provide them with living assistance.

Most refugees eventually return to their home countries. This occurs when the conditions that forced them to leave have improved. However, some individuals are never able to return. Instead, they have to seek resettlement in a new country. They work hard to rebuild their lives and become members of their new communities.

Currently, there are over 60 million people who have been forced to leave their homes and become displaced around the world. Among them, approximately 50 percent are children under the age of 18. How can we contribute to the support of these refugees? Discuss with a friend or family member the ways in which your country or community provides assistance to refugees.

Give It a Try

Are you interested in learning more about refugees and how you can make a difference? Explore the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Watch the short film “Refugees” created by USC Shoah Foundation. After watching, share your thoughts with a friend or family member. Did you gain any new knowledge? Can you think of any current conflicts that have led to people becoming refugees? Is there anything you can do to raise awareness about those who are fleeing from war and genocide?
  • Can you imagine what would happen if a war broke out in your neighborhood? If your parents informed you that your family had to leave within 10 minutes to seek refuge in another country, what would you do? With very little time to pack, what belongings would you try to take with you before leaving behind the home you have always known? Create a brief list and discuss it with an adult family member or friend. What items do they think they would try to bring?
  • How can you offer assistance to refugees? Learn about 12 ways to support refugee families. Which of these steps can you take? Maybe your classroom can gather essential supplies for families, or perhaps you can help raise awareness about the needs of refugees within your community. Talk to a friend or family member about how you would like to contribute.

Resources for Further Exploration

  • https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/refugees.html (accessed 28 July 2020)
  • https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-refugees (accessed 28 July 2020)
  • https://www.rescue.org/frequently-asked-questions-about-refugees-and-resettlement (accessed 28 July 2020)
  • https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/1951-refugee-convention.html (accessed 28 July 2020)


1. What are the main causes of people becoming refugees?

There are several main causes that force people to become refugees. One of the most common causes is conflict and war. When countries experience political instability or armed conflicts, people often flee their homes to seek safety in other countries. Another cause is persecution based on race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs. In these cases, individuals are forced to leave their homes due to the fear of violence or discrimination. Additionally, economic factors such as poverty, lack of opportunities, and natural disasters can also lead to people becoming refugees. Lastly, environmental factors such as climate change and environmental degradation can displace communities and force them to seek refuge elsewhere.

2. How does conflict contribute to people becoming refugees?

Conflict plays a significant role in causing people to become refugees. When countries experience armed conflicts or civil wars, civilians often become innocent victims caught in the crossfire. They face the constant threat of violence, displacement, and even death. As a result, many people are forced to leave their homes and become refugees in order to seek safety and protection. Conflict disrupts normal life, destroys infrastructure, and disrupts essential services such as healthcare and education, making it almost impossible for people to continue living in their home countries. The fear of persecution and the desire for a better future also contribute to people fleeing conflict zones and seeking refuge in other countries.

3. How does persecution lead to people becoming refugees?

Persecution, whether it is based on race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs, is a significant cause of people becoming refugees. When individuals face discrimination, violence, or threats to their lives and freedom, they are compelled to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere. Persecution can take various forms, such as ethnic cleansing, religious intolerance, or political oppression. Those who are targeted due to their identity or beliefs often have no choice but to flee their countries to protect themselves and their families. The desire for safety and the hope of finding a place where they can live without fear are the driving forces behind their decision to become refugees.

4. How do economic factors contribute to people becoming refugees?

Economic factors can play a significant role in causing people to become refugees. Poverty, lack of opportunities, and economic instability can push individuals to leave their countries in search of a better life. When people are unable to meet their basic needs, such as food, shelter, and healthcare, they may decide to become refugees in the hope of finding better living conditions elsewhere. Natural disasters, such as floods, droughts, or earthquakes, can also devastate communities and leave them without resources, forcing people to flee. Economic factors often intersect with other causes, such as conflict or persecution, as poverty and lack of opportunities can make individuals more vulnerable to violence and oppression.

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