Problem DescriptionThe Syrian refugee crisis has brought out the best and worst in political leaders. Some have opened borders to those fleeing war, persecution, and crisis. Others have shut them down. But one thing is clear: something in the system is broken. In theory, refugees have the right to seek asylum and either integrate into a host country or return to their home country in time. In practice, millions have been stuck in interminable limbo. And according to international law (but again, also in theory), they are a global responsibility. In reality, nearby nations such as Turkey and Jordan have absorbed most of the costs. However, it doesn’t have to be so black and white, says Alexander Betts, director of the Refugee Studies Center at the University of Oxford.
"Politicians frame the issue as a zero sum issue—that if we benefit refugees, we’re imposing costs on citizens," he says. "There are ways in which we can expand that choice set and still benefit everyone else—the host states and communities, our societies, and refugees themselves."
In a TED talk given in February, Betts, who is also founder of the Humanitarian Innovation Project, highlighted some fascinating options for changing this conversation.
- 4 Innovations That Could Turn Refugees from Burdens into Assets - And Save Lives
The Refugee Studies Center's Alexander Betts thinks that simple changes—such as giving refugees travel documents and matching their jobs with the needs of host countries—could change how we solve the crisis.
- Jessica Leber, www.fastcoexist.com
Solution StageOne of the 7 stages of an innovation. Learn more
|STAGE||SPECIALIST SKILLS REQUIRED||EXAMPLE ACTIVITIES||RISK LEVEL AND HANDLING||FINANCE REQUIRED||KINDS OF EVIDENCE GENERATED||GOAL|
|Making the case4||Business development and evaluation|
|A stronger case with cost and benefit projections developed through practical trials and experiments, involving potential users||Clarity about what warrants implementation and funding|