Migrants or Refugees?

Posted by: Josef Essberger
Europe’s politicians don’t seem to know the difference between a migrant and a refugee.

As thousands of people from the war-torn regions of the Middle-East (Syria, Iraq…) and North Africa (Libya…) cross the Mediterranean Sea to┬áseek safety in Europe,┬áthe European media and politicians struggle to avoid using the term refugees and instead label them┬ámigrants. But what’s the difference?

migrants or refugees?


Birds migrate. The verb migrate simply means to move from one region to another. In the case of birds it is to find a suitable habitat (living space) according to the season. In the case of humans, it is usually to find work or better living conditions. A person who migrates is called a migrant. It therefore suits European politiciansÔÇömany of whom, together with their NATO cronies, were largely responsible for┬ácausing the chaos in Iraq, Libya and SyriaÔÇöto label those seeking shelter in Europe “migrants”.


A refuge is a┬áshelter or safe place. A refugee is a person who has been forced┬áto escape war, natural disaster, persecution etc to find refuge. The word comes from the French r├ęfugi├ę meaning “gone in search of refuge”. There are international laws governing countries’ responsibilities towards refugees so again it suits the perpetrators of the crisis not to label people escaping┬áto Europe as refugees.

Why Al Jazeera will not say Mediterranean “migrants”

Two expressions come to mind:


Posted by Josef Essberger September 2015
Josef founded EnglishClub for learners and teachers of English in 1997.


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