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The United Nations 1951 convention on Refugees defines a refugee as: "A person who is outside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution."

In the UK, a refugee is someone who meets these criteria and has been given permission to remain in the UK as a result.