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Year after year, aid donors pay for displaced people to live as aid-dependent refugees. Even though resettlement can create huge value for families and countries, resettlement rates are very low, and many governments are unwilling to shoulder the cost of short-term help like health and welfare that refugees need. CGD’s Innovative Finance for Resettlement Working Group proposes converting that multi-year aid expenditure into an upfront endowment, so refugees are seen as bringing value when they settle in a country and can. It might also help overcome political resistance to resettlement.
Get Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy Updates
We need to stop talking about refugees as if they are burden to be shared. Refugees benefit both economy and the community—and if we invested more and better in giving them a good start, they would be able to make an even bigger contribution. Here we suggest innovative finance mechanisms to pay for that investment without putting pressure on public finances, instead enabling refugees to develop and apply their skills, integrate effectively, and improve their overall contribution.
Recent research overturns the standard narrative about refugee crises: that addressing them mainly means curtailing the conflict and poverty that “push” migrants away from home and slashing the excessive generosity that “pull” them into other countries. Instead, pragmatic and self-interested policymakers should consider that they often waste resources when trying to reduce push factors, and they can spark an inhumane and inefficient race to the bottom by acting individually to reduce pull factors. Through broad international cooperation to get people out of camps and into the labor force, though, they can transform refugees from a burden into an investment.