After much coverage in the news a few years ago, the plight of the world’s refugees no longer gets the platform it deserves. Refugees Deeply senior editor Daniel Howden, below, and broadcaster and journalist Bidisha, in the box on the right, explore this under-reported issue.Until recently, humanitarian aid was practically the only response to refugee crises. Even when dealing with protracted situations — ones where people remain for decades in the first country they fled to — refugees were aid burdens not an opportunity. Some development economists have been trying to shake up this approach and their experiments have begun to mature over the last year. In some of the handful of haven countries, where most of the world’s 22m refugees actually stay, attempts are being made to open jobs markets and seek reform alternatives to handouts, both to governments and refugees.
Crucial evidence is emerging on the ground in places like Jordan, where some things have been made to work, and Lebanon, where economics have lost out to politics. Meanwhile, the balance of conversation about refugees in Europe is stuck on whether or not they are coming this way. They are not. Media images of refugees are emotive but dishonest, showing them in camps or on boats, when in fact they are in cities like Jordan’s capital, Amman, trying to fend for themselves.
Countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Ethiopia, where a refugee jobs pact has been struck, will determine where and in what conditions refugees live. These ideas and experiments need the oxygen of attention and journalistic scrutiny to keep career politicians and multilateral lenders honest about what is working and what is not.
Introduction to this Under-reported series.
Summary guide to all under-reported articles in this series.