Lesson plans for ages 9-11 in Human Rights and Refugees: To Be a Refugee


Benin's Come camp hosted more than 1,300 Togolese refugees who fled their country after the eruption of violence following the announcement of election results on April 26, 2005.  © UNHCR/J.Björgvinsson


Refugees are people who are forced flee their country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. A refugee either cannot return home, or is afraid to do so.

The countries which generously offer shelter and protection to refugees are called countries of asylum. The word 'refugee' often conjures up images of immense movements of people fleeing through harsh terrain, carrying their various possessions, or images of sprawling camps where people live very close together under difficult conditions. Many of refugees do seek and find shelter in neighbouring countries, waiting for the time when conditions in their home countries are safe enough for a return. However, some refugees find themselves in faraway countries outside their own region. These people have been forced to move to a strange land where the language and culture are different to their own. They need to fit in, and begin their new lives.

This unit of lessons stresses the need to foster feelings of confidence in the students, and social tolerance for others. The students are led to recognize that differences between individuals certainly exist, but that the recognition of these differences should not lead to discrimination or intolerance. Despite racial, ethnic or religious differences, all people, including students and refugees, share a common human heritage. This is in keeping with the first two articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.