Community detention

Community detention describes the process whereby the government houses asylum seekers within the community whilst their visa application is being processed. People are able to access some essential services such as food and medical supplies whilst in community detention.


Interception involves the authorities of the country to which refugees are travelling to seek asylum stopping or intercepting them. Interception can take several forms, including:

  1. disrupting (interdicting) their movement in territorial waters or on the high seas
  2. pre-inspecting their documents at airports
  3. paying transit countries to turn people back before they reach the country of destination.
Myanmar/ Burma

The British named the country Burma during the colonial period (formerly spelt Burmah). In 1989, the ruling military junta changed the English language name of the country to The Union of Myanmar, after pro-democracy protests, and in an attempt to break from the colonial past.

The United Nations recognizes the right of all nations to choose their name. The pro-democracy movement however, has not supported the name change, partly because such support would provide legitimacy to the regime.

The debate about names only occurs in the English language. Both words mean the same thing; one is derived from the other: Burmah is a local corruption of the word Myanmar. Both are used within the country: Myanmar is the formal, literary or official form, whereas Burma is used largely in the spoken form. The national anthem refers to bama pyi or the ‘country of Burma’.


Sometimes refugees are forced to go back to their homeland against their will by the governments of the countries in which they are seeking asylum. When or if involuntary repatriation leads to persecution, it is known as refoulement.

For more information refer to the UNHCR reference on non-refoulement.

Urban areas

The UNHCR recognizes that many of the world’s refugees now find safety and live in urban areas, as opposed to refugee camps. The term urban area is used throughout Roads to Refuge in reference to refugees living on urban fringes.