Last week I had the opportunity to visit a refugee center in Berlin. This was just the day before the attacks in Paris, which have suddenly cast the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe in a new light.
In this video report, I offer a snapshot of one refugee center and some of the broader trends it highlights. For the global development community, the refugee crisis in Europe raises a number of issues, among them that it took an influx of refugees to places such as Berlin in order to raise global consciousness about a crisis that was already well underway for years in places such as Beirut.
And if the underlying issues — including a changing climate — that are causing a record number of people to flee their homes are going to persist or get worse, what should the international community do to respond? Cutting back on food and financial support for refugees in the region is what we have done of late, because the money simply hasn’t been there.
But that’s no solution. And those cuts may get steeper if European countries choose to support a growing number of refugees in their own countries out of their foreign aid budget, something Norway is considering according to reporting by my colleague Molly Anders.
The politics of aid funding could get worse in the wake of the terrorism in France. And there is already much blaming of the victims who are streaming into Europe escaping the same kind of barbarism that struck Paris.
So now is the time for the global development and humanitarian community to be strong advocates for long-term solutions that will entail, yes, more money, but also more partnerships and more innovation. The United Kingdom’s pledge this week to spend half its aid budget on fragile and failing states is one example of a bold new approach. Another is to leverage electronic payment platforms to deliver humanitarian aid more efficiently.
I invite members of our community to share their own views for how the international community can go beyond a military response to address the growing human tragedy underpinning Europe’s refugee crisis. What else must be done?
Raj Kumar is the founding president and editor-in-chief of Devex, the media platform for the global development community. A social entrepreneur and digital media executive, he chairs the Humanitarian Council of the World Economic Forum and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and the Council on Foreign Relations. His work has led him to more than 50 countries where he has had the honor to meet many of the aid workers and development professionals who make up the Devex community.
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