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Forced Populations

Alexander Betts: Our refugee system is failing. Here's how we can fix it

A million refugees arrived in Europe this year, says Alexander Betts, and "our response, frankly, has been pathetic." Betts studies forced migration, the impossible choice for families between the camps, urban poverty and dangerous illegal journeys to safety. In this insightful talk, he offers four ways to change the way we treat refugees, so they can make an immediate contribution to their new homes. "There's nothing inevitable about refugees being a cost," Betts says. "They're human beings with skills, talents, aspirations, with the ability to make contributions — if we let them."

Alexander Betts explores ways societies might empower refugees rather than pushing them to the margins.

In media and in public debate, refugees are routinely portrayed as a burden. Researcher Alexander Betts argues that refugees, who represent a wide spectrum of professional backgrounds, are in fact an untapped resource that could benefit nations willing to welcome them into their economies.

Betts is the director of the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, where he spearheads research on refugee and other forced migrant populations. His latest book, Survival Migration, explores the predicaments of people who are fleeing disaster yet fall outside legal definitions of refugee status.

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