Rupert Edis

Flight Paths

Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System

By Alexander Betts & Paul Collier

Allen Lane 267pp £20 order from our bookshop

The world is facing its greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War, with sixty-five million people displaced worldwide by violence, of whom eleven million are from the cauldron of the Syrian civil war. Meanwhile the international system for dealing with refugees is broken, and the shock waves of the crisis have created deep fissures in Europe and the USA.

The causes are complex, but Alexander Betts and Paul Collier highlight three in particular: the end of the Cold War, which weakened many smaller states that had depended on aid from the two superpowers; the spreading of Wahhabi ideology internationally by Saudi Arabia; and the long-term crises affecting around fifty fragile states such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. Large numbers of migrants are fleeing poverty, not violence – a million Africans, mainly economic migrants, are at this moment estimated to be waiting in Libya in the hope of crossing to Europe once calmer sailing weather returns to the Mediterranean.

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