Why should we value refugees?

Professor Alex Betts

Wars, famines, persecution & economic inequality are creating forced migration across the world with millions displaced. But many aren't welcomed in their new home. How & why should we value refugees?

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We've all seen the images of refugees on boats in the English Channel or crossing the Mediterranean Sea, risking their lives to reach a new land. Whether driven to leave their homes by persecution, war, famine or a need to access better economic opportunities, forced migration is accelerating across the world.

In the words of UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, we face ‘the most serious refugee crisis for 20 years’.  Even before the war in Ukraine accelerated in 2022, the UNHCR estimated that the number of people forcibly displaced globally exceeded 84 million. Today that stands at over 90 million & growing. And yet the number of refugee applications legally processed by the largest developed nations is declining every year.

For the receiving country, refugees are often seen as a crisis, but should they be seen as an opportunity to bring in valuable skilled labour? Are refugees a drain or an economic benefit to the societies they join?

Professor Alex Betts is a world expert on refugees and displaced people, a topic that is rarely studied by economists or political scientists. In this Garden Talk he explodes some myths about refugees and asks whether we should be valuing (and welcoming) refugees more?

Talk outline


50 minutes

About the Fellow

Professor Alex Betts

Alexander Betts is an expert on Refugee Studies and Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs at the University of Oxford.

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