Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected
LAist needs your help: Why we're asking everyone who values our journalism to donate today

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


Fire Evacuees are Not 'Refugees'

We need to hear from you.
Today during our spring member drive, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

Hear that sucking sound?

The media's commitment to learning from its many recent mistakes in reporting ethics and the semantics thereof is again being sucked out of the collective memory hole.

Two years ago, Hurricane Katrina survivors were initially referred to by numerous media outlets as "refugees."

Support for LAist comes from

While "refugee" can be inferred to be descriptive of one who "takes refuge," the fact is that -- at least since the 1951 approval of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees -- the word "refugee" is used in relation to persons fleeing to escape danger imposed by foreign countries or persecution. Yes, a fire is dangerous, but Mother Nature cannot be considered the sole antagonist of a refugee situation (the political implications of the word "refugee" force the argument that in fact, those still displaced because of the government's failings in the aftermath of Katrina can now be considered "refugees," but I digress).

The 4.5 million Iraqis forced to flee their homes as a result of U.S. occupation and a burgeoning civil war are refugees.

The San Diego Chargers are being forced to work out in Arizona due to the fire conditions at their practice field. And nobody's calling LT a "refugee."

I mentioned this yesterday after catching it in both UPI and the San Diego Union-Tribune but its even more disappointing to see "refugee" in headlines for a second day.

Today's refugee-callers, including our own LA Times, exiled after the jump.

-- LA Times -- On the morning after what is being called the largest evacuation in California history, the most visible public face of the relocation was Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, where 10,000 refugees of the firestorms spent the night on cots and in parked cars.

-- Associated Press [Headline] At a stadium refugee center, massages and buffets buck up spirits

-- Australia Herald-Sun -- Old and young, rich and poor, an estimated 20,000 people had formed a well-organised refugee camp in the parking lot of the stadium that usually provides a home to the San Diego Chargers American football team.

-- and hundreds more.

Support for LAist comes from

AP photo of evacuees at Qualcomm Stadium by Chris Carlson.

Most Read