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One of the achievements of the present century has been the collective definition by the international community of a body of legal principles for the treatment of refugees. As the century draws to a close, however, the application of these principles is beset with increasing difficulties due to the magnitude and complexity of the refugee problem. Some of these difficulties arise when a refugee problem needs to be addressed in a group context, which is frequently the case in refugee situations resulting from violence, internal conflict and the widespread disregard of human rights.;The purpose here is to describe and analyze the techniques and mechanisms applied by the international community in dealing with group refugee situations during the period from 1921 to 1985, when more restrictive perceptions of the refugee problem began to develop. The point of departure is that there is an essential difference in the approach adopted according to whether refugee character is determined individually or on a group basis. A description is given of selected group refugee situations in Africa, Asia, Central America and Europe, from the standpoint of the applicability of the refugee definitions in the UNHCR Statute (1950) and the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention.;Solutions for problems arising in more recent group refugee situations, notably those resulting from violence, internal conflict or the widespread disregard of human rights, despite their magnitude and complexity, should be sought within the general context of the 1950/51 definitions. The emergence of new situations should not lead to a redefinition of the refugee concept itself, in the light of the particular problem being addressed. This is of essential importance in order to avoid the very real danger of a fragmentation and erosion of the single and comprehensive refugee concept.