DevExplains: Refugee vs. migrant

By Kelli Rogers 29 February 2016

What’s the difference between migrant, refugee and asylum-seeker?

The Syrian crisis alone has displaced nearly half of the population and sent 4.6 million Syrian refugees into neighboring countries. Violence in Afghanistan, Somalia and South Sudan have also sparked huge refugee movements, as has fighting in Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Iraq.

Nearly 2.5 million asylum-seekers have requests pending, while it’s estimated that 3 million people around the world are migrating to cities every week in search of more secure livelihoods.

Considering all of this human migration, it’s hard to keep track of the definitions prescribed for  different subgroups, such as migrant, refugee and asylum-seeker.

In this video, Devex explains each term — as well as why it’s important to distinguish among the three.  

Across Borders is a monthlong online conversation hosted by Devex and partners — World Vision, the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, the U.S. nonprofit partner of the International Organization for Migration and United Nations Volunteers — to analyze and amplify the discussion on global migration and current refugee crises through the lens of global security, development cooperation and humanitarian aid work, and more. Visit the campaign site and join the conversation on social media tagging @devex and #AcrossBorders.

About the author

Kelli Rogers@kellierin

In her role as associate editor, Kelli Rogers helps to shape Devex content around leadership, professional growth and careers for professionals in international development, humanitarian aid and global health. As the manager of Doing Good, one of Devex's highest-circulation publications, she is constantly on the lookout for the latest staffing changes, hiring trends and tricks for recruiting skilled local and international staff for aid projects that make a difference. Kelli has studied or worked in Spain, Costa Rica and Kenya.

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