A clear argument that the world needs a new approach to refugee policy.
Collier (Economics/St. Antony’s Coll., Oxford; Exodus: How Migration Is Changing Our World, 2013, etc.) and Betts (Forced Migration and International Affairs/Univ. of Oxford; Survival Migration: Failed Governance and the Crisis of Displacement, 2013, etc.) write that the current global refugee catastrophe is on a scale only comparable to such “major moments of international crisis” as the 1971 breakdown of the international monetary system or the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Many of the assertions and cited statistics may shock readers, especially those who are unaware of the contents of annual reports circulated by the United Nations Refugee Agency. Currently, there are more than 65 million refugees and displaced persons worldwide (“the highest proportion of the world’s population ever recorded: one person in every 113”), and the number of refugees doubled over the past 8 years. Collier and Betts demonstrate beyond reasonable objection that the U.N. has become incapable of fulfilling its statutory mandate to provide protection to refugees and find long-term solutions to their plights. Though the dependence on voluntary contributions from member countries is insufficient, the agency is increasingly forced to deal with escalating problems, which is not sustainable. The authors put blame on widespread “violent disorder” and “mass violence” but note that wars—e.g., in Iraq and Syria—are extreme cases of a crisis driven by the 40 to 60 nations whose existences are considered to be fragile. Of the 65 million global displaced persons, at least 20 million are considered to be cross-border refugees. Roughly half of these are living in camps like the infamous Dadaab in Kenya, and the average stay for such camp-bound refugees is increasing. The remaining 45 million are the internally displaced, including 11 million in Syria. Among other elements of autonomy and humanitarianism, the authors vigorously discuss the absolute necessity of jobs to create “a workable system that can sustainably offer sanctuary to the world’s refugees.”
A vital contribution to a discussion that should be at the top of world leaders’ agendas.