What do Albert Einstein, Gloria Estefan, Fabrice Muamba and Marlene Dietrich all have in common?
Each one of them is a refugee.
Each year, millions of people across the world are forced to leave their home countries. Often, this is due to violence and conflict. An asylum seeker is a person who has fled their own country and applied for protection as a refugee. Refugees are those who are outside their own country and are unable to return due to a fear of persecution. Refugees are given leave to remain in a new country.
According to the UN’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) 2011 report, the number of people forcibly displaced has reached 43.7m worldwide.
Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia were the three major source countries of refugees in 2010. Developing countries host four fifths of the world’s refugees. Pakistan and Iran hosted the most refugees in 2010; 2.7 million Afghans alone sought refuge there. By contrast, the UK is home to less than 3% of the world’s refugees.
In 2009, asylum seekers totaled 1,695 in Wales. Asylum seekers are not entitled to work, and those aged over 25 receive around two thirds of the level of income support.
In 2007, a coalition of voluntary groups called on the Assembly to pledge their support for a manifesto to support refugees and asylum seekers in Wales. Each of the four party leaders gave their support.
This week sees the celebration of Refugee Week across the UK, with events and celebrations taking place across Wales.