Should Refugee Camps be “Smart Cities”?

Tara Nathan, Executive Vice President for Government and Development at Mastercard, has published an interesting short piece on the World Economic Forum websiteShe joins the current new thinking supporting refugee self-reliance that benefits both refugees and hosting communities.  In Nathan’s words: “A new model must create communities in which the forcibly displaced can become self-sufficient faster and can contribute to the economic growth of their host communities.”

Global Refugee Crisis

The headlines we saw over the past two years were European. Indeed, the word “crisis” was first attached to refugees when the refugees showed up in Europe.  But this is not a European issue, or even a Western one.  The numbers of refugees reaching Europe fell in 2016 to about one third the 2015 levels from 1 million to 300 thousand thanks to the constraints on transit imposed by Turkey as part of the EU Turkey deal. The Syrian war was plainly a humanitarian crisis for the millions of persons displaced by the violence. The dangers of crossing the Mediterranean from Libya have not declined.  But for Europe, the secondary flow of refugees from Syria’s neighbors presented and presents not a demographic or economic crisis (the number of asylum-seekers arriving in Europe is about one-half of one percent of the continent’s total population). The crisis is one of governance, more specifically governance failure.