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Refugees are people from the metro who are forced to leave their home station and seek refuge at other stations, usually because their home station is no longer safe for them.
All refugees share one thing, their determination to find a better life. All of them are fleeing their previous stations in hopes that another will accept them or offer a better life. Refugees may flee their home because of political persecution, natural disasters, mutant attacks, or supernatural threats.
Those refugees coming from the Red Line often are avoiding being drafted into combat, or are avoiding prosecution for other reasons such as being the family of a surrendered soldier. If a communist soldier surrenders, it's seen as a disgrace and his family is arrested. Some of note are the ones encountered in the level "Bandits".
Refugees fleeing the Nazis are usually those who don't meet their strict physical standards for genetic purity from mutations. The penalty for failure to meet their standards is death, and the Reich is constantly refining its standards with stricter criteria. As a result, many people who have lived in the Reich abandon it to escape execution, particularly those who were considered unmutated under prior criteria who are considered mutants under newer standards. An example of this is found in Metro: Last Light when Artyom visits the Theatre Station, where two couples can be overheard talking about the Nazi's standards causing them to flee the Reich. However, in the events of the novels, by 2035 the stations the Reich held were flooded, and many of its citizens were forced to flee to other parts of the Metro.