REFUGEES

וַיֵּרֶד מִצְרַֽיְמָה, אָנוּס עַל פִּי הַדִּבּוּר. וַיָּגָר שָׁם. מְלַמֵּד שֶׁלֹּא יָרַד יַעֲקֹב אָבִֽינוּ לְהִשְׁתַּקֵֽעַ בְּמִצְרַֽיִם, אֶלָּא לָגוּר שָׁם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל־פַּרְעֹה, לָגוּר בָּאָֽרֶץ בָּֽאנוּ, כִּי אֵין מִרְעֶה לַצֹּאן אֲשֶׁר לַעֲבָדֶֽיךָ, כִּי כָבֵד הָרָעָב בְּאֶֽרֶץ כְּנָעַן. וְעַתָּה, יֵשְׁבוּ־נָא עֲבָדֶֽיךָ בְּאֶֽרֶץ גֹּֽשֶן: 

Jacob went down to Egypt, forced to go according to the Torah. He lived there– this teaches that Jacob only went to dwell temporarily in Egypt, not to live there permanently. This is as it is written in the Torah: They said to Pharoah: we have come to live in the land, since there is nothing for your servants’ sheep to graze on, for the famine is very severe in the land of Cana’an.

Refugees

Since returning a person to a place where their rights will be violated enables violation of those rights, human rights law forbids countries from doing that. So even if a person arrives in a country illegally, such as by crossing a border on foot or by boat with no travel papers, if there is a well founded fear of persecution should they be returned to their home country they must be allowed to stay. This is called asylum.

Granting asylum to refugees can be a major burden to host countries. Refugees often require significant financial assistance. Language and cultural barriers may make it difficult for them to integrate into the host’s society. Terrorists, criminals, and human traffickers may attempt to infiltrate along with refugees, and it can be very difficult for a host country to sort them out.

Current Issues Involving Refugees

Economic Migrants and Refugees

A refugee is someone who is forced to flee their home country out of fear of persecution. Economic migrants are people who choose to move in search of better living conditions. But economic migrants often present themselves as refugees, and it can be extremely difficult to distinguish between the two. . .

Accepting Refugees Can Aid Ethnic Cleansing

In many of today’s wars, such as Bosnia, Syria, and Myanmar ethnic cleansing is both a tactic and goal. Targeted minorities obviously want to flee to safer places. But by welcoming them, countries of refuge save lives but also facilitate the ethnic cleansing itself. . .

Climate Change Refugees

There is scientific consensus that human actions are causing climate change. Legal protection for refugees extends only to people fleeing political persecution. But what about people forced from their homes by climate change? This can be attributed to political decisions as well. . .

Human Rights Haggadah Blog

Dead Eye and the Deep Blue Sea

In The Dead Eye and the Deep Blue Sea, Vannak Prum tells how he was taken from Cambodia and enslaved for years on a Thai fishing boat. His story shows how easily even today people can still be taken as slaves.

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