Enable the lives of refugees
Betts and his Oxford colleagues have been studying the economic lives of refugees in Uganda—not because Uganda is a typical host country, but because "it’s exceptional." Unlike most host countries, says Betts, Uganda gives refugees the right to work and freedom of movement. "The results are extraordinary, both for refugees and the host community," he says.
In the capital city of Kampala, 21% of refugees own a business that employs other people—and 40% of those employees are Ugandan nationals. Even in refugee camps, there’s vibrant, flourishing businesses such as a Congolese refugee running a digital music exchange. "Against the odds of extreme constraint, refugees are innovating," he says. "Rather than see refugees as inevitably dependent on humanitarian assistance, we need to provide them with opportunities for human flourishing. Yes, clothes, blankets, shelter, and food are all important during the emergency phase, but we need to also look beyond that."
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.