Managing the Refugee Crisis – The Economist’s Perspective

  The February 6th-12th issue of The Economist has several excellent and insightful articles about the refugee crisis.  Their reports are very worthwhile.  I recommend reading them in their entirety.  I am providing just a few excerpts here:

REFUGEES are reasonable people in desperate circumstances. Life for many of the 1m-odd asylum-seekers who have fled Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other war-torn countries for Europe in the past year has become intolerable. Europe is peaceful, rich and accessible. Most people would rather not abandon their homes and start again among strangers. But when the alternative is the threat of death from barrel-bombs and sabre-wielding fanatics, they make the only rational choice.

Since the start of the refugee crisis, we have argued that Europe should welcome persecuted people and carefully manage their entry into European society. Our views have not changed. Countries have a moral and legal duty to provide sanctuary to those who flee grave danger. That approach is disruptive in the short term, but in the medium term, so long as they are allowed to work, refugees assimilate and more than pay for themselves. By contrast, the chaos of recent months shows what happens when politicians fail to take a pan-European approach to what is clearly a pan-European problem. The plan we outline would require a big chunk of cash and a lot of testy negotiations. But it is in every country’s interest to help—because all of them would be worse off if the EU lapses into a xenophobic free-for-all.

There is an encouraging precedent, too. When more than 1m “boat people” fled Vietnam after the communists took over in 1975, they went initially to refugee camps in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia before being sent to America, Europe, Australia and wherever else would take them. They arrived with nothing but adapted astonishingly fast: the median household income for Vietnamese-Americans, for example, is now above the national average. No one in America now frets that the boat people will not fit in.


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