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Lesson plans for ages 12-14 in Human Rights and Refugees: Rights, Responsibilities and Refugees

Teaching Tools, 9 May 2007

© UNHCR/N.Behring
Many refugee youth do not have access to education. These young men in Jimmy Bagbo camp, Sierra Leone, were some of the few who did.

LESSONS 4 and 5: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Rights of Refugees

Preparation

Have available A4-sized copies of the UNHCR Lego posters Spot the Refugee, How Does It Feel? and What's Wrong Here? Display large format copies of the posters prominently in the classroom.

Introduction

Explain that the three posters on the wall were produced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the international organization which provides protection and assistance to refugees.

At this point, the teacher may wish to introduce portions of other lessons available on UNHCR's website, in the Teaching About Refugees section. For example, the teacher can use the Geography units for ages 9-11 or 12-14. With many examples, these lessons will make the concept of a refugee clearer to the students.

The teacher should now define the word refugee for the students:

"a person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in 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."

Go through the definition carefully, to ensure that the concepts are clearly understood.

These Lego posters placed in mass-circulation magazines, and are were pasted on walls in public places, such as bus shelters and train stations. Ask the students why they think UNHCR published such posters. What message are they trying to convey?

Referring to the posters, ask the students which article(s) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are especially relevant to refugees and the people of their host countries. Answers may include Article 14 (Right to Asylum), but also Articles 1 (Right to Equality), 2 (Freedom from Discrimination) and many others not explicitly mentioned in the poster texts, for example, Article 3 (Right to Life, Liberty and Personal Security; Article 5 (Freedom from Torture, Degrading Treatment), and Article 9 (Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest, Exile). Violations of any of these articles have caused people to flee their home country.

Discussion questions

UNHCR has the responsibility to ensure that refugees are protected in their country of asylum and to assist refugees by coordinating the provision of shelter, food, water, sanitation and medical care in emergency situations.

  • How does UNHCR suggest, through these posters, that individuals can help refugees?
  • Do the students agree?
  • What else can governments do to protect the rights of refugees?
  • What responsibilities do you think refugees might have in their host countries?
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