There are important differences between the terms ‘migrant’ and ‘refugee’, which cannot be used interchangeably. Refugees are outside their own country because of a threat to their lives or freedom. They are defined and protected by a specific international legal framework. The term ‘migrant’, on the other hand, is not defined under international law, and is sometimes used differently by different stakeholders. Traditionally, the word ‘migrant’ has been used to designate people who move by choice rather than to escape conflict or persecution, usually across an international border (‘international migrants’), for instance to join family members already abroad, to search for a livelihood, or for a range of other purposes. The term is increasingly used as an umbrella term to refer to any person who moves away from their usual place of residence, whether internally or across a border, and regardless of whether the movement is ‘forced’ or voluntary.
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