A refugee is a person who has been pushed away from his or her home and seeks refuge elsewhere. However, even if the dislocated population has an opportunity to return to their original homes, many of them are still uninhabitable.The concept of a refugee was expanded by the Convention's 1967 Protocol and by regional conventions in Africa and Latin America to include persons who had fled war or other violence in their home country. Refugee women and children represent an additional subsection of refugees that need special attention. For the refugee system to work successfully, countries must be prepared to allow Open borders for people fleeing conflict, particularly for countries closest to the conflict.
The term refugee is often used to include displaced persons who may fall outside the legal definition in the Convention, either because they have left their home countries because of war and not because of a fear of persecution, or because they have been forced to migrate within their home countries. The Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, adopted by the Organization of African Unity in 1969, employs a definition expanded from the Convention's, including people who left their countries of origin not only because of persecution but also due to acts of external aggression, occupation, domination by foreign powers or serious disturbances of public order.
Refugees were defined as a legal group in response to the large numbers of people fleeing Eastern Europe following World War II. The lead international agency coordinating refugee protection is the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which counted 8,400,000 refugees worldwide at the beginning of 2006. This was the lowest number since 1980. The major exception is the 4,600,000 Palestinian refugees under the authority of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), who are the only group to be granted refugee status to the descendants of refugees according to the above definition. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants gives the world total as 62,000,000 refugees and estimates there are over 34,000,000 displaced by war, including internally displaced persons, who remain within the same national borders. The majority of refugees who leave their country seek asylum in countries neighboring their country of nationality. The "durable solutions" to refugee populations, as defined by UNHCR and governments, are: voluntary repatriation to the country of origin; local integration into the country of asylum; and resettlement to a third country.
As of December 31, 2005, the largest source countries of refugees are Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, and the Palestinian Territories. The country with the largest number of IDPs is South Sudan, with over 5 million. As of 2006, with 800,000 refugees and IDPs, Azerbaijan had the highest per capita IDP population in the world.