Refugee Council of Australia
Man walking across ground in Africa

Why people need to leave

Persecution and vulnerable groups

Persecution can be both a cause and result of conflict. For example, persecution of minorities or political tensions often result in conflict, which may also create further victims of persecution. Women and girls, for example, often suffer from gender-based violence during conflict.

Persecution is also the reason why many people leave, even if there is no conflict. For example, there are estimated to be at least 10 million people who do not have a nationality (‘stateless’) . Statelessness generally restricts a person’s ability to enjoy who fundamental human, social, and political rights.


For example, the Rohingya are a group of people who cannot claim nationality in Myanmar, where about 1.1 million of them live. The Rohingya suffer terrible conditions and are at risk of genocide. This has forced many thousands of them to try to reach safety by taking dangerous boat journeys to other countries in Asia.

Other commonly persecuted groups include:

The Refugee Convention defines a refugee in terms of having a ‘well-founded fear of persecution’. However, it is important to recognise that ‘persecution’ in the Convention will commonly apply to people who are fleeing conflict and violence.

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