Refugee camps should be turned into enterprise zones so inhabitants can set up businesses and build their own infrastructure, according to a new report.
Called Refugee Cities, the report argues that existing aid strategies have failed, with refugees preferring to avoid the camps due to the lack of opportunities they offer. Instead, by modelling them on special enterprise zones (SEZs) elsewhere in the world, they could benefit both the refugee and the host populations, as well as giving inhabitants useful skills for their eventual return to their homelands.
“Modelled after the most successful special economic zones in the world, refugee cities work within political realities to create jobs for refugees and their neighbors, while achieving a return for investors,” says the report. “Surrounding communities would enjoy new investment and infrastructure, and governments would welcome refugees as a benefit rather than a burden.”
US-based NGO Refugee Cities was founded by Michael Castle Miller, who said the idea would benefit both refugees and the host country. “The aims of the project are to expand opportunities for migrants and to thereby allow them to find dignity, meaning, and a social and economic future,” Miller told Dezeen. He added that Refugee Cities aimed “to provide a model under which host countries can benefit from refugees’ presence; to deliver a financial return for investors; to make international assistance more effective and self sustaining; and to provide refugees with the material, knowledge, and psychological resources to rebuild their home countries when they are able to return.”