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For teachers - ages 15-18 in History: After the Soviet Union

Teaching Tools, 19 March 2007

Refugees (98, IV 1994)


  • Population displacement in the former Soviet Union
    Complex refugee and displacement problems have emerged in the former Soviet Union as a result of numerous ethnic conflicts, causing increasing concern at UNHCR and among the international community.
  • Meeting the challenge
    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister S. Krylov says an influx of refugees and forced migrants into his country is growing, and today totals some 2 million people.
  • Chilly reception for refugees in Russia
    For most of its history, Russia's borders have been closed both to people trying to get in and to people trying to get out. But the collapse of the Soviet Union changed all that.
  • Hostages of the empire
    An estimated 25 million Russians today live outside of Russia in the Commonwealth of Independent States and Baltic countries. Their presence is perhaps the most complex legacy of the Soviet era.
  • Bitter legacy of banishment
    In 1944, the entire Crimean Tatar nation upwards of 250,000 to 350,000 people was deported by Stalin to Central Asia. Today, the Tatars are going home, but their return is a difficult one.
  • Tip of the iceberg
    The Baltic states fear becoming a transit zone between Russia and the Nordic countries for thousands of asylum-seekers from the Third World who long to leave behind poor living conditions in Russia for a better life in the West.
  • Conflict in the Caucasus
    The collapse of communism and the rise of ethnic strife have plunged the southern fringes of the former Soviet Union into turmoil, particularly in the Caucasus where some 1.5 million people have been forced from their homes.
  • Rebuilding Socialism
    The reconstruction of a village called Socialism, torn apart in late 1992 by clan conflict in Tajikistan, is testimony to the increasing stability brought about by cooperation between local, national and international groups.



The 1951 Refugee Convention

The Geneva Refugee Convention has been instrumental in helping an estimated 50 million people restart their lives.

Internally Displaced People

The internally displaced seek safety in other parts of their country, where they need help.