Migrant or refugee?

The 9th edition of GESS is approaching fast and our students from all over the world are traveling around the globe right now to come to Mexico City, Shanghai or Munich. On Saturday, we start our program with 35 students at each site, trying to find solutions caused by migration.

In an increasingly connected and globalized world, international migration is a widespread term and has become a reality that involves everyone and is one of the biggest challenges in the 21st century. Due to modern technology and advanced transportation opportunities, people are in need of cheaper and faster means of transportation to move around the globe. Nowadays, there are many reasons why people have to leave their home country, among others there’s war, poverty, inequality and a lack of jobs or simply the search for a better future.

But what exactly is the difference between a migrant and a refugee? To distinguish migrants from asylum seekers and refugees is not always easy, it depends on different levels of assistance and protection under international law. An asylum seeker is defined as a person fearing and fleeing persecution for reasons of race, religion, social group or political opinion or because of conflicts and war. Therefore, after having crossed borders, they can seek international protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention on the Status of Refugees. A refugee then, is an asylum seeker whose application has already been approved. Hence, every refugee has been an asylum seeker at one point. Also, there is an ”economic migrant”, a person whose primary motivation for leaving his or her home country is economic gain. All three groups are labeled as “migrant”.

In short: All refugees are migrants, but not all migrants are refugees. Our vision at the GESS is billion dollar projects to foster societal change and therewith solve pressing issues caused by migration!

We look forward to seeing what the students will come up with…


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