Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Brandon Fuller ― Rethinking Refugee Camps

A practical approach to solving an intractable problem

via City Journal

The United States probably could accommodate President Obama’s 2016 goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees—or even the request of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of 22,000—without imposing undue security risks. But though it has been the subject of furious debate, the White House resettlement goal is just the tip of the iceberg. The 10,000 refugees that the U.S. will admit represent just 0.2 percent of the more than 4.2 million Syrians registered as refugees. And Syrian refugees are just part of the global refugee population. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees puts the global number of refugees at nearly 20 million—with another 1.8 million seeking refugee status. Any feasible plan for improving refugees’ prospects must involve changing the circumstances where they are now—often in camps in the countries closest to their homelands.

Refugee camps were designed to provide temporary food and shelter in so-called “second countries”—the countries in which refugees first arrive when fleeing their homeland. Ideally, camps represent a temporary stopover, sometimes on the way back to a newly safe homeland and sometimes on the way to resettlement in a “third country” that agrees to resettle refugees permanently. Stays in refugee camps, however, are rarely temporary. Since less than 1 percent of refugees are resettled in third countries, refugees can end up in camps for decades. This limbo is made worse by refugees’ lack of access to host countries’ formal-sector employment opportunities. With little hope of resettlement and or finding a job, a refugee’s only options may be informal employment, unlawful migration, or a return to conflict—and potentially radicalization.

Read the full article HERE.