Refugees historically

Before the 19th century, "refugees were seldom a bone of contention among states, and...rarely preoccupied people in positions of authority. As there was no generally accepted obligation to protect and succor strangers" few "worried about the particular economic burdens refugees might impose. Because refugees only rarely threatened public order, they did not constitute an unusual danger...Central governments favored population growth" and " sometimes [even] welcomed refugees from elsewhere...Given that [most people then] lived perilously close to subsistence," masses in danger of becoming refugees often "perished before even becoming refugees and before commanding [public] attention." Before the 19th century, " 'refugees' almost exclusively denoted Protestants driven from the French Kingdom at the end of the 17th century."   -- M. Marrus, The Unwanted, pp. 7-8.


The Berlin Wall and refugee flows in historical perspective