refugees boat Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

A Private-Sector Solution to the Refugee Crisis

The time has come to adapt development policies to the reality of what makes economies grow. Rather than simply handing money from one state to another, development funds must be used to mobilize the private sector.

BRUSSELS – International development is not just about alleviating poverty; it is also about delivering security, stability, and economic opportunities to poor and fragile communities, thereby preventing citizens from having to flee their home country in search of a better life. For a West eager to stem the flows of refugees and migrants from Africa and the Middle East, supporting development is a much more effective approach than building walls and razor wire fences.

But too often development is forced to take a back seat in policymaking. The so-called War on Terror that began in 2001 has evolved into multiple brutal conflicts that are destabilizing the entire Middle East, eroding people’s freedoms, undermining their safety, and transforming the very nature of their societies. This is driving people from their homes, and often from their countries. The ongoing conflict in Syria, in particular, has already displaced some five million people.

It is, of course, sensible to say that refugees should stay in the first safe country they can reach. But many, nonetheless, clamor to escape the instability of their region altogether. They dream of a life of security and opportunity in Europe, and are willing to go to great lengths to obtain it – even embarking on a life-threatening journey across the Mediterranean Sea.

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