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"Our refugee system is failing. Here's how we can fix it" - Oxford Professor Alexander Betts shares his suggestions

Posted: Thu, Mar 9, 2017 2:42 PM

Oxford Professor Alexander Betts' TED Talk titled "Our refugee system is failing. Here's how we can fix it" was presented by Luther's Center for Ethics and Public Engagement on Thursday morning.

Betts shared that currently refugees have to choose between three difficult options: encampment, urban destitution or embarking on a dangerous journey. Although many think these are the only viable options, Betts suggests it's time to consider other possibilities. "We really need a new vision, a vision that enlarges the choices of refugees but recognizes that they don't have to be a burden. There's nothing inevitable about refugees being a cost. Yes, they are a humanitarian responsibility, but they're human beings with skills, talents, aspirations, with the ability to make contributions — if we let them."

Betts suggests there are four ways we can transform the paradigm of how we think about refugees. First, he suggests countries need to create enabling environments that provide the opportunity for connectivity, electricity, education, the right to work, access to capital and banking. Second, countries need to create economic zones that allow refugees to work alongside the national workers. Third, countries need to utilize preference matching to match the needs of the country with the skills and preferences of the refugees. Fourth, refugees need access to humanitarian visas allowing them to make their own travel plans which would eliminate smugglers and save lives.

Alexander Betts is a Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs and the Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University.