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Migrant and refugee health

23 March 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 6

Damaging, unsubstantiated untruths concerning migration and health abound. These have become accepted as true and used to support policies of exclusion. Exploitation of public fears regarding migration brings with it racism, prejudice, xenophobia and hate crimes.

Everybody, regardless of where they are from, will have their own unique story that impacts their current and future health. Migrants' health is shaped by a number of wide-ranging factors, from their pre-migration experiences, their experiences during and after migration to the UK, their work, education and socio-economic status and their ethnicity (Fernández-Reina, 2020).

The terms ‘refugee’, ‘asylum-seeker’ and ‘migrant’ describe people who have left their countries and crossed borders. Distinguishing between these terms is important as there are legal differences. A refugee is a person who has fled their own country because they are at risk of serious human rights violations and persecution there. An asylum-seeker is a person who has left their country and is seeking protection from persecution and serious human rights violations in another country, but who has not yet been legally recognised as a refugee and is waiting to receive a decision on their asylum claim. Seeking asylum is a human right. There is no accepted legal definition of a migrant across nations. Generally, migrants are people who are staying outside their country of origin, who are not asylum-seekers or refugees (Amnesty International, 2023).

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