Refugees 1950-2000

Refugees are involuntary migrants, forced to leave their home countries to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

In 1950 the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (U.N.H.C.R) was established to co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems.

During the second half of the century there was a huge influx in the number of refugees arriving in London from numerous different countries. In 1956 following the Soviet invasion of Hungary 21,000 Hungarians came to Britain with 14,000 settling permanently. Czechoslovakians fled a Soviet invasion and Asian Kenyans were forced out of their country as a result of increasing levels of persecution.

In order to cope with the increasing numbers of asylum seekers coming to Britain the 1971 Immigration Act controversially permitted asylum seekers to be detained in detention centers or prisons for the first time. Then in 1987, the Immigration Act meant that transport companies could be fined for transporting people without the correct visas or passport.

During the 70s and 80s, Britain received large numbers of refugees from China, Uganda, Latin America, Cyprus, Turkey, Iraq, Vietnam Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

The 1990's saw still more peoples needing refuge including Algerians, Angolans, Yugoslavians, Bosnians, Romas from Poland, Nigerians and Albanians.

The increase in the number of asylum seekers also resulted in an increase in the amount of government legislation in this hotly debated area. In 1990 the Dublin Convention was signed which meant that European Union countries could deport asylum seekers who had travelled via another 'safe' EU country back to that country.

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