Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Myriad - another great comment - and excellent feedback too, which I am going to pass on to UNHCR. And thank you for the leads in Australia - which I will check out. Good luck with your work too!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Sep 23rd, 2008 at 05:32:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant to say -

I'm sure you probably know this, but for the benefit of other readers, and to build on my point of cost:benefit analysis:

When people are externally displaced as refugees (ie have to flee their country), there are three options preferred to assist them, in the following order

The first, best option it to be able to create conditions that make it safe for the people to return home. Obviously, this is rarely a quick thing to come about, which is one of the reasons people end up so long in refugee camps. But from everyone's point of view, the best thing is to return the people to their home, to return that social asset to the country, etc.

The second next preferred option if the first is not possible it to settle refugees in neighboring countries. The rationale for this is it minimises cultural differences, acknowledges the connectivity of geography, demography and at the family level between countries, and also allows for the possibility of 'easy' eventual return to country of origin if possible. This is what happens to the bulk of refugees - just look at the numbers of Iraqis in Syria, for example. Of course in Africa, as we have seen over the decades, while the capacity of countries there to absorb refugees from neighboring crises is in many ways astonishing; the number of countries in strife, and the conflict created in countries by large numbers of refugees (look at South Africa at the moment) and so forth means there are limits to this solution also.

The third, least preferred option is to settle refugees in a completely other, usually developed, nation, that is willing to take them. This is where countries like my own come in. Note that there is a big difference between asylum seekers  - people who male their own, desperate way to another country and seek asylum - and those refugees settled from camps directly in developed nations via the UNHCR. In a nutshell, Europe receives far more asylum seekers and takes very few refugees; Australia does the opposite (we're hard to reach and you might remember the draconian, inhumane laws of our previous government, currently being slowly undone); and the USA does a mixture of both.

so after all that, back to the cost:benefit thing. It simply strikes me that developed nations do provide significant aid for refugee camps and 'durable solutions' (1-3) above. Whether the displaced people end up back home, in a neighboring country or in a developed nation, it's in our interests for them to be able to receive a good education, be capable of integrating rapidly into their society, and contribute effectively. Whether it's in further aid to help a war-torn nation back on its feet, including accepting its people back; or he;ping neighboring countries absorb the displaced people and have them contribute successfully; or people settling in the developed world who also want to contribute -the foundation of all of these things is safety and education.

It's surely got to be more cost effective to help them continue to develop while displaced, rather than putting their lives on hold for as much as 20 years.

"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Tue Sep 23rd, 2008 at 07:48:08 PM EST
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