Refugee Cities

Pieter Cleppe has a good article about refugee cities. Hopefully, it can restart some of the discussion. It is excerpted below.

propose to create what I call “free havens”, which really are newly created cities, governed by officials from countries with a high level of rule of law, and where any refugee could go to. This idea is very similar to the concept of “startup cities” or “private cities”, whereby cities would be created by private investors from scratch in a bid to create a much nicer place to live than in existing cities and to provide a more beneficial investment climate by offering a much stronger protection of property rights than elsewhere.

I have written on refugee cities as well, making similar points. However, the news cycle has focused on the US election, Brexit, and the wave of terror attacks, rather than refugees. Further, the Turkey deal seems to have slowed the flow of refugees.

That being said, the refugee crisis is unlikely to slow in the near future. The causes, political instability in the Middle East and Africa, are likely to get worse before they get better.

Luckily, I think refugee cities are a viable solution. The barrier to refugee cities is largely political. And refugee cities align well with political interests. Refugees are threatening the political fabric of Europe, but there remains a strong humanitarian impulse to allow them entry. Refugee cities allow them access to the best parts of Europe while limiting the nativist backlash.

Further, a number of prominent thinkers have supported the idea, albeit weakly. The list includes George Soros, Ann-Marie Slaughter, Paul Collier, Reiham Salam, and Paul Romer. The current difficulty is that no one has taken ownership over the issue. If someone were able to play a coordinating role, bringing together those who support the idea to create a coalition, it would be possible to start work on a refugee city. A conference would be the first step, bringing together those who support refugee cities to establish the strategy for pushing them forward.

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