Ethnic cleansing is the systematic forced removal of ethnic, racial, and religious groups from a given area, often with the intent of making a region ethnically homogeneous. Along with direct removal, such as extermination, deportation or population transfer, it also includes indirect methods aimed at forced migration by coercing the victim group to flee and preventing its return, such as murder, rape, and property destruction. It constitutes a crime against humanity and may also fall under the Genocide Convention, even as ethnic cleansing has no legal definition under international criminal law.
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Many instances of ethnic cleansing have occurred throughout history; the term was first used by the perpetrators as a euphemism during the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s. Since then, it has gained widespread acceptance due to journalism and the media's heightened use of the term in its generic meaning.