From Syria, to Nigeria to Myanmar, the number of people fleeing war and persecution around the world is at unprecedented levels. The United Nations Refugee Agencyestimates the total number seeking safety by the end of 2015 was 65 million worldwide. That’s equivalent to the entire population of Great Britain being uprooted and dispersed. And that was before the latest warnings of famine in parts of Africa and Yemen, before the latest upsurge in fighting in South Sudan and before the Iraqi military offensive against Islamic State.
But rather than providing refugees with protection, more and more countries are deciding to lock them out by closing their borders. This is not just morally wrong. It is self-defeating. Refugees should not be seen as a financial burden or security threat but rather as a source of potential for host countries. Instead of wasting money on building walls, it would be better to support programs to help refugees to help themselves.
I am living proof that the investment pays off.