Frequently Asked Questions

RefugeeMap_2011jpgQ: Who is a refugee?

A: A refugee is defined under international law as someone who is unable to remain in his or her home country due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, and/or social or political opinion.

Q: So what makes a refugee different from an immigrant?

A: Immigrants voluntarily leave their home country for various reasons, such as the pursuit of better economic opportunities, education or family reunification. Refugees, however, have been forced to flee their home country out of fear or necessity.

Q: What happens to a refugee after he has fled his country? Can he ever return home?

A: There is no definitive path for individuals who have been forced to flee their homes. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) outlines three durable solutions: Repatriation If possible, the UNHCR works with the country of origin to help individuals return home. This can occur once the threat of persecution has been resolved. Local Integration Sometimes refugees are able to integrate into the local society of the country where they have fled. There are numerous examples of successful local integration, such as DR Congolese refugees in Angola and El Salvadorian and Guatemalan refugees in Belize, just to name a few. Resettlement For individuals who are unable to go home or integrate locally, resettlement is the third option. Less than 1% of refugees are offered a permanent home through resettlement. Over 50% of all resettled refugees are accepted by the United States. Canada and Australia follow the U.S. in resettling the most refugees.

Q: How many refugees are resettled to the U.S.?

A: Since 1975, over three million refugees have been resettled by the U.S. In 2012, 58,236 refugees were accepted. 60 different nationalities were represented, with 64% coming from Iraq, Burma, and Bhutan.

Q: How many refugees are resettled in Tennessee annually?

A: The exact number varies from year to year, but in 2012, over 1,200 refugees were resettled in Tennessee. 75% of whom were placed in Nashville.
Q: What is World Refugee Day?
A: Each year on June 20th, we pause to acknowledge World Refugee Day, and honor the unique strengths of those who have been forced to flee their homes—people who wait for years or sometimes decades for a place to call home again, or to reunite with loved ones separated by war, displacement, and uncertainty. It’s also a day of remembrance of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers who perished in search of freedom around the world and to keep their memory alive. On 4 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly  from 2001, 20 June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day. The annual commemoration is marked by a variety of events in more than 100 countries, involving government officials, humanitarian aid workers, celebrities, civilians and the forcibly displaced themselves.
Still have questions? Check out these helpful online resources:
Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services
IRC’s Refugee 101 Presentation
Office of Refugee Resettlement Arrival Data
Tennessee Office for Refugees