There are many reasons why people leave their country in search of a better, safer life. Some leave home to get a job or an education – they are usually called migrants. Others are forced to flee human rights violations, such as torture and persecution, from an armed conflict or another type of crisis. Or they might have been targeted just because of who they are or what they do – for example, for their ethnicity, religion, sexuality or political opinions. We usually refer to this group as refugees or asylum-seekers.

These people’s journeys can be full of danger and fear. Some are detained by the authorities as soon as they arrive in a new country. Many face daily racism, xenophobia and discrimination, and risk falling prey to human trafficking and exploitation.

Others end up feeling alone and isolated, having lost the support networks most of us take for granted – their community, relatives and friends.

Sarah, aged six, pictured on the Greek island of Chios, 28 November 2016. She can name the capitals of almost all countries in the world. Sarah and her family fled bombing in her home city of Homs. They told Amnesty International that when they tried to cross the border between Syria and Turkey, Turkish police fired shots at them.

Definitions: What exactly is a refugee, an asylum-seeker and a migrant?

Who is a refugee?

A refugee is a person who has fled their own country because they are at risk of serious human rights violations there. Because their own government cannot or will not protect them, they are forced to seek international protection. There are currently over 21 million refugees in the world. The vast majority of them – 86% – live in developing regions.

Who is an asylum-seeker?

An asylum-seeker is someone who is seeking international protection abroad, but hasn’t yet been recognized as a refugee.

Who is a migrant?

A migrant moves from one country to another, often to find work. There may also be other reasons such as wanting to join relatives, or to escape natural disasters. Some move because they want to, while others feel forced to leave because of poverty or other serious problems. People can migrate ‘regularly’, which means they have official permission to stay in a country, or ‘irregularly’, which means they don’t yet have this permission. Whatever their status, all migrants are entitled to have their human rights protected.

Find out: What exactly is a #refugee, an asylum-seeker and a migrant? Click To Tweet

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