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The term:evacuee is defined by Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language as somebody who is evacuated from an area of danger.

By contrast, a refugee is someone who seeks (and hopefully secures) refugee in some place other than his/her original home in the hope of escaping war, religious persecution, etc..Typically the government whose oppressive rule is fled will regard those who flee as criminals, traitors, etc., rather than as refugees. The country to which such a person flees may or may not consider them to be refugees -- depending on what the government in question believes to be their true motivation and what it sees as being in its own self interest. When people flee an oppressive regime they are rarely if ever likely to maintain any rights in the country they have fled.

The main difference between an evacuee and a refugee is whether the person is moved (by the government or a non-governmental agency) or makes the move on his or her own volition and without government aid.

Given that many people affected by Hurricane Katrina received nearly no government aid, the term:evacuee is suspect. Many commentators believed that it had been applied specifically to sidestep rights of a refugee, which might otherwise apply to New Orleans residents. While a refugee has rights to the security of their property, for instance, an evacuee may not, and may find what little they have left confiscated due to eminent domain or other laws that are passed "in an emergency". There were serious controversies about the reconstruction of New Orleans and respect for the rights of home owners in the flooded areas, leading to Mayor C. Ray Nagin's controversial remarks that he wanted New Orleans returned to its pre-Katrina status as a "chocolate city". Pressure of this nature led to the US government avoiding "evacuee".

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