Asylum seekers, migrants and refugees: What is the difference?

The refugee crisis has been on the cover of newspapers, and news channels have filled hours with this topic.

According to the United Nations, one in every 122 humans is today either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. The words “refugee” and “economic migrant” are perhaps the most repeated but they are not always used correctly.

This is a list with the most relevant definitions related to this issue. Sources are the UNHCR, The Refugee Council and Migration Watch UK.

Asylum seeker: A person who has applied for asylum. According to the UK Government, to be eligible the person must have left his or her home country and be unable to go back because he or she fears persecution. This person is considered an asylum seeker until the application is processed. UNCHR says that around one million people seek asylum every year in the World.

Refugee: The person claiming asylum is defined as a refugee once the asylum application has been granted. In this case, the receiving country recognises that the person would be in danger if returning to their home country and, therefore, guarantees protection.

Economic migrant: A person who goes to another country to find a better job and improve his or her economic situation.

Internally displaced people: People who have been forced to leave their home and look for a safer place inside their own country

Stateless: People that are denied to have a nationality. They are not recognised as citizens, which means that they are discriminated and aren’t allowed to access basic services such as health care or education. According to the United Nationals, there are at least 10 million people in this situation in the world.