Betts argues that while analysts often compare the US to Europe and its response to the ‘refugee crisis’, the EU is a poor model for US policy. Other regions of the world can provide more useful lessons. The East African countries of Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia together host more than 2.8 million refugees, seven times more than the US, despite their average GDP/capita being sixty times lower. And as Betts writes, “their policies reflect the reality that they share borders with conflict-afflicted countries such as Somalia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Betts reflects on the research his team in the Refugee Economies Programme has undertaken in Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia. This includes a survey of over 16,000 refugees and host community members in refugee camps and cities, and a series of in-depth interviews and impact evaluations examining particular policies in each country, all of which have adopted different approaches. He argues that “Despite their differences, each country has adopted an innovative approach, from which the wider world can and should learn. The United States, in particular, can learn much when it comes to implementing a new U.S. refugee policy, both in integrating its own refugees and partnering with other countries across the Americas.”
The article presents case studies from each country that can provide some guidance to the new Biden-Harris Administration when developing a new national refugee policy. In particular, the three countries highlight the potential value of development-based approaches to displacement.