Alexander Betts: Our refugee system is failing. Here's how we can fix it
Alexander Betts - Social scientist
Alexander Betts explores ways societies might empower refugees rather than pushing them to the margins. Full bio
really quite ashamed
arrived in Europe in need of our help,
frankly, has been pathetic.
more than 200 children
in the Mediterranean.
are a shared responsibility,
than the whole of Europe combined.
of human smugglers,
our economic and demographic needs
in opposition to fundamentalist Islam,
from their families,
response to a humanitarian crisis?
it's because people don't care,
it's because people don't care.
our politicians lack a vision,
an international refugee system
is take a step back
system not working?
of the Second World War by these guys.
or worse, turns against its own people,
until they can go home.
like the situation we see in Syria today.
signed by 147 governments,
on the Status of Refugees,
admit people onto their territory
have a right to seek asylum.
block the path to safety.
to a pathway to integration,
they've come from.
in almost indefinite limbo.
are a shared global responsibility.
that countries proximate the conflict
of the world's refugees.
because the rules are wrong.
adequately to a changing world,
about how the current system works.
many of the people I've met in the region.
of the world's refugees,
because she comes from this city
of resettlement to a third country,
of the world's refugees.
can take her family to a camp.
for Amira and her family.
across the border in Syria at nighttime.
who are in camps
choose that option.
to an urban area
like Amman or Beirut.
of Syrian refugees have taken.
great difficulty as well.
don't usually have the right to work.
significant access to assistance.
have used up their basic savings,
and likely to face urban destitution.
numbers of Syrians are taking.
on a dangerous and perilous journey
in Europe today.
with an almost impossible choice
and dangerous journeys.
the global refugee regime today.
that are available to refugees,
as a zero-sum issue,
we're imposing costs on citizens.
or burden to society.
They can contribute.
expand that choice set
of how we think about refugees.
the opportunities of globalization,
about the refugee issue.
a very basic recognition
like everyone else,
in extraordinary circumstances.
a research project in Uganda
it's representative of all host countries.
around the world,
It gives them freedom of movement.
own a business that employs other people,
we found extraordinary examples
and entrepreneurial businesses.
who runs a business that's available
and recycled televisions.
is a Congolese guy called Demou-Kay.
in the settlement with very little,
he started a community radio station,
out of very little.
our response to refugees.
upon humanitarian assistance,
with opportunities for human flourishing.
to connectivity, electricity,
to the global economy
is economic zones.
host country in the world
their economies to refugees
alternative options that we can use.
with my colleague,
while we were there
and the government,
national development strategy.
integrate the employment of refugees
of Jordanian host nationals.
from the Zaatari refugee camp,
Bin Talal Development Area.
over a hundred million dollars
connecting it to the road network,
were able to work there
skills through vocational training
that could benefit Jordan,
requires it to make the leap
but it could also contribute
reconstruction of Syria
to incubate refugees
of eventually rebuilding Syria.
in the journal Foreign Affairs.
Syria Conference two weeks ago,
between states and refugees
you see here in the selfie
and a Syrian refugee.
what they want, where they want to go,
the idea of matching markets,
of the parties shapes an eventual match.
and Alex Teytelboym
could be applied to refugees,
their preferred destinations,
the types of refugees they want
you'd need to build in quotas
the possibilities of matching.
has been successfully used
students with university places,
that exist on dating websites.
to give refugees greater choice?
at the national level,
to accept refugees.
in my country, for instance,
and farmers to the cities,
to bring those preferences together
of the populations that host
is of humanitarian visas.
we've seen in Europe
in Europe's asylum policy,
by embarking on those dangerous journeys
in an era of the budget airline
of over 3,000 people
and within European territory.
and seek asylum in Europe,
called a humanitarian visa,
to collect a visa at an embassy
from Turkey to the Greek islands.
airline from Bodrum to Frankfurt.
it would have major advantages.
the entire market for smugglers,
we see from Europe's front line
rather than a rational solution.
have been able to get humanitarian visas,
on arrival in Brazil.
every Syrian who has gone through it
and been recognized as a genuine refugee.
for it as well.
were used as travel documents
Turks and Chechens
elsewhere in Europe.
International Refugee Office
being a viable strategy.
that I've presented you
Amira's choice set.
greater choice for refugees
impossible three options
we really need a new vision,
the choices of refugees
don't have to be a burden.
about refugees being a cost.
with skills, talents, aspirations,
contributions -- if we let them.
will be with us for many years.
realistic ways of managing this --
of humanitarian assistance,
markets and mobility.
and urge our politicians
About the speaker:Alexander Betts - Social scientist
Alexander Betts explores ways societies might empower refugees rather than pushing them to the margins.
Why you should listen
In media and in public debate, refugees are routinely portrayed as a burden. Professor Alexander Betts argues that refugees, who represent a wide spectrum of professional backgrounds, are in fact an untapped resource that could benefit nations willing to welcome them into their economies.
Betts is the director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, where he spearheads research on refugee and other forced migrant populations. His book, Survival Migration, explores the predicaments of people who are fleeing disaster yet fall outside legal definitions of refugee status.
Alexander Betts | Speaker | TED.com