Recently Professor Alexander Betts gave a passionate talk at TEDxVienna addressing some of the common misconceptions about refugees, and the problems with the EU response to the current refugee influx.
He describes the situation of many refugees in protracted displacement situations, spending many years in camps with little hope or opportunities for work or education. In contrast he highlights Uganda’s treatment of refugees. Here refugees have the right to work and some freedom of movement. They are engaged economically, in diverse ways, with local, national and even international economies. They are setting up businesses, from trading to film-making, employing others including Ugandans.
Betts goes on to highlight lessons from the Ugandan example for other countries, for example Jordan which is currently home to over 600,000 refugees but does not give them the right to work.
He ends by calling on the audience to "rethink refugees not just as vulnerable victims… but as people with capacities, as people with potential if we invest in them and support them, to teach us many things, and contribute to our economies and our societies."