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In 2015, record numbers of refugees sought asylum in European nations, whose response has been sadly lacking. Refugee advocate Alexander Betts posits that the problem stems from viewing migrants as a burden rather than as a rich resource. He proposes four changes that could upend this perception. getAbstract recommends Betts’s well-reasoned talk to European policy makers, people on the front lines of the crisis and those following it in the headlines.


The European response to the 2015 refugee crisis has been abysmal and contradictory: For example, people lamented the death of toddler Alan Kurdi yet ignored the loss of more than 200 immigrant children who since have drowned in the Mediterranean. Treaties specify sharing the onus for absorbing refugees, yet European nations allow tiny Lebanon to bear most of the burden. People deplore human trafficking yet cut off legal routes into their countries. Business laments labor shortages, while governments prohibit refugees from entering the workforce. In 1951, 147 governments signed the Convention on the Status of Refugees to provide asylum for people escaping conflict and persecution. This agreement is obsolete in today’s world ...

About the Speaker

Alexander Betts is the director of the Refugee Studies Center at the University of Oxford.

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