Relationship Between Art & Refugee

You might wonder what fashion and refugee issues have in common… Well an enterprising and compassionate Fashion Design student from the USA has used the opportunity of her Senior thesis collection to address some of the problems facing Syrian refugees as they make their journeys across borders to safety:

Angela Luna’s refugee crisis thesis project aims to create long-term solutions and is just a part of her larger brand, ‘Design for Difference’. She has now connected with the UN and the International Rescue Committee, as well as IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation (a Turkish NGO that is aiding Syrian refugees) who have expressed interest in Luna’s collection recognising that it could not only be beneficial to refugees, but also to internally displaced people and Syrian aid workers, all of whom are constantly on the move to find safety and each other.

RightsNow Pakistan encourages Artist & Art Lover & students to support us to help refugees feel protected.           Email


“I urge you to celebrate the extraordinary courage and contributions of refugees past and present.” – Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General

Pakistani Refugee Camp

Who is a Refugee?

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or is afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.

What is the 1951 Refugee Convention?

The 1951 Geneva Convention is the main international instrument of refugee law. The Convention clearly spells out who a refugee is and the kind of legal protection, other assistance and social rights he or she should receive from the countries who have signed the document. The Convention also defines a refugee’s obligations to host governments and certain categories or people, such as war criminals, who do not qualify for refugee status. The Convention was limited to protecting mainly European refugees in the aftermath of World War II, but another document, the 1967 Protocol, expanded the scope of the Convention as the problem of displacement spread around the world.

What is the difference between a refugee asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is someone who claims to be a refugee but whose claim has not been definitively evaluated.  An asylum seeker has applied for refugee status.  In the US people with refugee status are designated as such before they arrive in the US.  Asylum seekers come to the US and then apply for protection after their arrival.

What is an internally displaced person (IDP)?

An internally displaced person is a person, or group, who has been forced to leave their home as a result of, or in order to avoid the effects of, armed conflict, violence, or violations of human rights.  What makes and IDP differently from a refugee is that an IDP has not crossed an internally recognizes state border.

Who is a stateless person?

A stateless person is someone who is not a citizen of any country. Citizenship is the legal bond between a government and an individual, and allows for certain political, economic, social and other rights of the individual, as well as the responsibilities of both government and citizen. A person can become stateless due to a variety of reasons, including sovereign, legal, technical or administrative decisions or oversights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights underlines that “Everyone has the right to a nationality.”

Who is a returnee?

A returnee is a refugee who has returned to his or her home country. The majority of refugees prefer to return home as soon as it is safe to do so, after a conflict and the country is being rebuilt. UNHCR encourages voluntary repatriation, or return, as the best solution for displaced people. The agency often provides transportation and other assistance, such as money, tools and seeds. Occasionally, UNHCR helps rebuild homes, schools and roads.

How does a refugee become a refugee?

The process to gain refugee status is often a difficult, long drawn out process.  The countries that accept refugees for resettlement examine the lists of individuals to determine if any meet their own criteria for resettlement.  Even after a refugee is accepted as eligible for resettlement, they often have to wait a long time for an available to slot to enter the country that has accepted his/her application.

What are a refugee’s options?

Refugees often have to wait for a durable solution to their crisis.  These “durable solutions” usually take the form of three paths:

1.Repatriation à Refugees are allowed to return to their country of origin if conditions stabilize enough so that their safety is guaranteed upon return.

2.Nationalization à Refugees remain in their host country or “country of first asylum” (usually a country near their country or origin)

3.Resettlement à Refugees are resettled in a third country, usually the US or Western Europe (this happens with less than 1% of the World’s refugee population).

The US is one of only ten countries that have historically accepted refugees for resettlement.  The following countries are currently the major resettlement countries:

1.United States






7.New Zealand


9.United Kingdom


Recently, several developing countries have also begun accepting refugees chosen for third country resettlement.







How many refugees are there in the world?

It is estimated that there were between 14 and 15 million people fled their homes during 2007.  As of December 31, 2007, the World Refugee Survey, found on the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) website, estimates the following numbers exist in the following areas (It should be noted that the numbers contain not only those whom have been officially recognized as refugees but also asylum seekers and others that USCRI considers to be refugees):

Africa = 2,799,500 refugees

Americas and the Caribbean = 787,800

Europe = 527,900

Middle East and North Africa = 6,380,200

East Asia and the Pacific = 934,700

South and Central Asia = 2,617,200

How many new refugees are allowed into the US each year?

The number of refugees admitted into the US for resettlement varies from year to year.  Before the start of each fiscal year, the current administration consults with resettlement agencies, members of Congress, and leading experts in refugee affairs.  Based on these consultations, the President then issues a determination on refugee admissions for the year.  Typically between 50,000 and 75,000 refugees are accepted by the United States for Resettlement.  Some 80% of these are women and children.

On September 30, 2008, President Bush announced that up to 80,000 refugees can be potentially admitted into the United States during the next fiscal year.  The maximum numbers from each region are as follows:

37,000 from Near East and South Asia

19,000 from East Asia

12,000 from Africa

4,500 from Latin America and the Caribbean

2,500 from Europe and Central Asia

5,000 to be allocated by the State Department to various regions as the need arises

How many refugees are currently in refugee camps and where are they located?

Currently there are over 700 recognized refugee camps worldwide.  However, the number of refugee camps fluctuates with need but it is estimated that around 12 million refugees and asylum seekers live in camps in countries other than their own while 21 million people are “Internally Displaced Persons,” an official designation reserved for civilians displaced by persecution or violence, but they remain inside their own countries.

What is “warehousing”?

The World Refugee Survey reports that as of the end of 2007, some 8,536,500 refugees /Internally Displaced Persons are considered “warehoused” within refugee camps. Warehoused refugees are typically confined to camps or segregated settlements where they are virtually dependent upon humanitarian assistance.  Refugees are considered to be “warehoused” if they are not free to work, practice professions, run businesses, and own property.

Please refer following organizations for more informations:

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