Even countries that don’t want to open their entire economies to refugees could provide more limited opportunities. This summer, Jordan is about to start a pilot project allowing refugees to work in an existing economic zone that is about 15 minutes from the 80,000-person Zaatari Refugee Camp on Syria’s border. The goal is to allow refugees to work alongside Jordan nationals in an area that the nation would like to develop into a manufacturing hub. The problem is that labor is lacking.
Betts—who brainstormed the idea with other NGOs, the Jordan government, and development economist Paul Collier—says the economic zone could benefit Jordan and eventually aid Syria. "We need to incubate refugees as the best source of eventually rebuilding Syria," he says.
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.