Glossary of Terms and Definitions

Asylum seeker [noun]

classification for someone who is seeking international protection from danger in their country of origin, but whose claim for refugee status hasn’t been finally decided. Every refugee begins as an asylum-seeker, but not every asylum-seeker will be granted refugee status.

Emigrate [verb]


to leave a country permanently and go to live in another one. If you move to a different country, you emigrate. For example, if you emigrate from Canada and go to Italy, you aren’t on vacation — you are making Italy your new home. Emigrate is from the point of view of the departure. Think exit.

Internally displaced person (or IDP) [noun]

classification for someone who is seeking refuge somewhere else within their own country as a result of conflict, epidemic, or natural disaster. Their hope is to return home as soon as it is safe to do so.

 Immigrate [verb]

to come to live in a different country. When a person immigrates, he or she moves to a new country. During the great wave of immigration between 1880 and 1924, over 25 million Europeans immigrated to the United States. Immigrate is from the point of view of the destination. Think come in.

Migrate [verb]

to move from one place to another. To migrate means to move from one place to another, sometimes part of a back-and-forth pattern, and sometimes to stay. Migrate is all about the moving. Think move.

Refugee [noun]

classification for someone who is forced to flee their country of origin due to conflict, violence, or persecution. They are unwilling or unable to return based on a demonstrable threat due to their race, religion, political stance, or social status.

Repatriation [noun]

The personal right of a refugee to return to their country of nationality under specific conditions laid down in various international instruments and human rights instruments as well as in customary international law.

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