This weekend, the RSC Director, Professor Alexander Betts, took part in a discussion about Europe’s refugee crisis on a special edition of ‘World Have Your Say’ on the BBC World Service titled ‘The Pressures on Europe’s Borders’. Here he argued that Syrian refugees, Syrian exiles and the Syrian diaspora should be recognised for the crucial role they will play in the long-term reconstruction of Syria post-conflict, lending their skills and talents to eventually rebuild the Syrian economy. He said, “when we think about refugees from Syria in Europe, we need to think about them as the people who will eventually go back, build that society, contribute to regional stability and thereby benefit all of us. So diasporas and refugees are a resource that we should be incubating and supporting as the ultimate long-term future of Syria.”
Regarding the international response to the current crisis, he argued that “Europe needs a new deal on responsibility sharing to distribute refugees fairly across its member states but that also has to take place globally. Where the international community has been most successful in the past in addressing refugee situations is with comprehensive approaches to cooperation. For instance, in the 1980s we dealt with...hundreds of thousands of refugees from Vietnam… through a Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indochinese Refugees. Today we need a Comprehensive Plan of Action for Syrian Refugees, we need political leadership to come from governments and it has to be on a reciprocal basis.”
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