Being an undocumented person has consequences for international law and the way that you are treated by society. A few pieces of paper is what proves ones existence, without the proper documentation one technically doesn’t ‘exist’. Not only does this mean that undocumented persons’ basic human rights are not granted, but they are also seen as an opportunity by some to extract money from the black market, by taking advantage of people in vulnerable situations. Many refugees fall into a black market trap. It is an issue that is very hard to regulate and often overlooked when it comes to discussing the refugee crisis. Two texts British texts, one a film – Dirty Pretty Things by Stephen Frears and the other a novel by Monica Ali, Brick Lane, expose the hardship that stateless people may face.
It is also very important to distinguish a migrant from a refugee and to use the correct terminology when referring to the people who have fled war ridden zones. Some Western politicians can justify the relative inaction that has taken place with regards to the huge influx of people by categorizing them as “economic migrants” as opposed to refugees which could have detrimental effects on these people’s lives. As the UNHCR put it: “These are people for whom denial of asylum has potentially deadly consequences”. Al Jazeera has taken a strong stand on the issue, their blog illustrates the problem well.
One’s choice of word reflects an attitude to the current refugee crisis, there is a whole range of words used to in the world of migration, however, they their differences mainly lie in their interpretations.
Using the right terminology has an effect on how the refugees are firstly viewed and then treated within society. It may be a small step in the grand scheme of things but it may help grant these people, that are effectively stateless, the right documentation so that their rights can be respected.