What it's about:
Cities should embrace refugees, viewing them as providers of economic opportunities rather than a burden on society, writes Aisling O'Loghlen, a research fellow at Northumbria University, in an article on The Conversation website.
Local residents and government authorities are often hostile to refugees, arguing they put additional pressure on healthcare services and the employment situation.
But with the right urban governance and planning structures in place, refugees can boost economic growth and provide host countries with employment opportunities, argues O'Loghlen.
The positive impact of refugees is apparent in a large number of host countries, she notes. In Uganda, for example, 20 percent of refugees own a business with more than one employee, and 40 percent of those employed are Ugandan nationals.
In southern Italy, young migrant families have given the medieval village of Riace a new lease of life, revitalising the ghost-town’s economy and population.
By providing refugees with language classes, housing, education and access to employment, cities can help them play a positive role in urban life, O'Loghlen says.
Why it's noteworthy:
When people hear the word “refugee”, many think of someone who lives in a tented camp in a remote region. But the majority of refugees actually live in urban areas, according to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR).
At the end of 2016, 60 percent of refugees were living in urban centres, according to UNHCR, and the figure is expected to rise rapidly over the next three decades.
Many developed countries are experiencing high levels of urbanisation paired with declining birth rates. To maintain economic growth, these countries must create new sources of labour, O’Loghlen argues.
With their wealth of experience and entrepreneurial spirit, refugees and displaced people could plug this gap, if provided with the necessary support and opportunity, she writes.
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