The Refugee Dictionary


What do you think of when you hear the word ‘refugee’?

The word refugee was legally defined by the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. It has since helped millions find safety from war and persecution. But with 100 million people displaced by conflict and persecution globally and rising hostility from some quarters, public education and empathy is more crucial than ever. To mark the Convention’s 70th anniversary, UK for UNHCR created ‘The Refugee Dictionary’ - a crowdsourced dictionary defining only one word, ‘refugee’. Using contributions from refugees, their friends, family and supporters, it showed a refugee is never just a word but always a story. More than 1,000 definitions from refugees and their supporters, including faith and community leaders and celebrities, were submitted. The Refugee Dictionary was accessioned into the British Library on the 70th anniversary of the Convention as a record of the anniversary and to celebrate Britain’s tradition as a place of refuge.. As a new charity seeking to grow our supporter base, the resulting change in sentiment towards refugees and a rise in engagement, for example in increased social media following and email newsletter sign-ups, were significant campaign successes.