According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a refugee is defined as an individual who is “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”. Granting asylum to those who so need it has been a convention that has been practiced for so many years. Unfortunately, the aiding of refugees comes with its costs.
The presence of refugees within a country affect the economic, environmental, social, and the political hardships that are already existing within the country. We have seen previous conflict stem from the mere presence of having multiple social groups within one geographical location. If we take a look at the Sunni and Shia denominations of Islam for example, violence has plagued these two groups for many years, stemming from the migration of the Shia Iranians into Iraq in the 16th century.
In addition to the preexisting problems that the host country may have, an influx of refugees may continue to strengthen those problems. For example, many host countries implement programs and services for the incoming refugees, and this has been seen to have a negative effect on the surrounding communities because the citizens do not have the same opportunities to receive these free services such as healthcare and education.
Fortunately, with the problems that countries encounter when taking in refugees, the refugees also provide certain benefits. With these new people coming into a different country, they bring with them a different culture, creating a ‘melting pot’ of knowledge and skills, potentially aiding the society itself.