In October 2015, Foreign Affairs published an article by Professor Alexander Betts and Professor Sir Paul Collier (Blavatnik School of Government) proposing a new approach to the Syrian refugee crisis: the establishment of special economic zones (SEZs) in Jordan where displaced Syrians could work. This approach could provide Syrians with jobs, education and autonomy while advancing Jordan’s development.
In a new article, published yesterday in Foreign Affairs, Betts and Collier describe how this idea has “gained political traction”. Developments over the winter, involving Jordanian King Abdullah, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, have led to a “pilot program that will grant some 150,000 refugees the right to work” which will likely begin this summer in Jordan.
As Betts and Collier state, “A fresh approach to mass displacement is needed now more than ever.” The recent EU-Turkey deal, they say, is “already unravelling”, for a number of reasons that they relate. “If Europe really wants to help displace Syrians”, they say, “it should start by helping to provide opportunities for employment and education in the host countries bordering Syria… The European Union needs to encourage European firms to bring jobs to development zones in the host countries” so that refugees are able to earn a living.
While some uncertainties remain regarding the pilot SEZ program in Jordan, Betts and Collier are confident that it will begin this summer. As they say, when this happens “the world must pay close attention to its strengths and weaknesses”, not only to ensure its success in Jordan but also to consider how the model might be applied elsewhere.
Read the full article here >>