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World Service radio series:
- One: 22 June
- Two: 29 June
- Three: 6 July
- Four: 13 July
- Five: 20 July
- Six: 27 July
- Seven: 29 July
World Service radio series
Pam O'Toole (left) and Zina Rohan in Islamic dress in Iran
The BBC World Service presents a landmark series on refugees, charting some of the dramatic changes in the policy towards refugees over the last 50 years. The "Road to Refuge", presented by journalist Pam O'Toole and produced by Zina Rohan, cuts through the confusion and misconceptions that surround asylum and migration today. Road to Refuge is part of the Right to Refuge project in eight languages run by BBC World Service Trust and World Service Education with support from UNHCR.

Programme One
(30 minutes)
Programme one: 22 June

The refugee debate has changed dramatically since the days of the Cold War, when Communist defectors were welcomed by the West and used as propaganda tools. New types of conflict worldwide have since produced many new categories of refugees. But the improvement of mass transportation systems means there's been a corresponding rise in the number of economic migrants. Governments are having increasing difficulty differentiating between the two. We speak to politicians and refugees about some of the issues involved, while former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, admits that the typical refugee envisaged by the Convention's Western drafters is now quite rare.

Programme Two
(30 minutes)
Programme two: 29 June

Programme two takes us to Iran, for many years host to the largest refugee population in the world, despite getting little outside help. But high unemployment means that pressures are growing for the two million refugees to return home. Many of the Afghan refugees there feel insecure - they say they are planning to leave for the West. But with Western governments erecting ever higher barriers to keep people out, they accept that they will have to resort to using people- smugglers. A smuggler describes his work, we speak to asylum seekers who have risked their lives to reach the West and to an immigration officer battling with increasingly imaginative "scams" used by smuggling rings.

Programme Three
(30 minutes)
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Programme three: 6 July

The third programme deals with increasing threats to refugee protection worldwide. It opens with a moving testimony from Filippo Grandi, field co-ordinator for the UNHCR in Eastern Congo in the late 1990s. He highlights the dilemmas involved in protecting a refugee group widely regarded as having blood on its hands - the Rwandan Hutus. And what do you do when the money runs out? Pam O'Toole visits refugee camps in Tanzania where more than half a million refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda have suffered food ration cuts because of donor fatigue. We look into the "refugee business" to establish why these desperate people receive only a fraction of the aid doled out to Kosovar Albanian refugees.

Programme Four
(30 minutes)
Programme four: 13 July

What happens to asylum seekers who arrive in the West? In many countries they can expect a hostile reception. Pam O'Toole visits Somali asylum seeker, Mohamed Abdille in a US jail and the controversial Woomera immigration detention centre in a former rocket testing range in the Australian desert. We also examine the situation in the United Kingdom, currently receiving the highest number of asylum seekers in Europe.

Programme Five
(30 minutes)
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Programme five: 20 July

Who should decide if, or when, refugees should go back? Over the decades, Western countries' tendency to resettle refugees in their place of asylum has evaporated, replaced by demands that they return home quickly. UNHCR admits that it is "under increasing pressure to support repatriation which is neither strictly voluntary nor safe". We follow a Kosovar Albanian family's fight to be allowed to remain in Britain after being served a deportation notice and we talk to newly returned refugees in Kosovo.

Programme Six
(30 minutes)
Programme six: 27 July

The 50th anniversary of the Geneva Convention has prompted a flurry of proposals for its reform. But is it possible to screen out economic migrants while protecting genuine refugees? And how will Western states reconcile their determination to keep out "bogus asylum seekers" with a growing need for migrant labour?

Programme Seven
(1 hour)
Programme seven: 29 July

Your chance to ask questions and give us your views in a special edition of Talking Point, BBC News Online's phone-in show on the BBC World Service. Listeners will be able to put their questions to the new UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers. E-mail us now to tell us what you think.

Broadcast time:
Fridays 1930GMT/2030BST

Saturdays 0130GMT/0230BST, Mondays 1430GMT/1530BST, Tuesdays 0930GMT/1030BST

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