Refugee Cities is borne out of a vision for releasing the immense talent, ambition, and creativity in displaced people to meet the development needs of their communities, families, host countries, and homelands.
The time appears more ripe than ever for our cause. Throughout Europe and the US there has been a growing awareness and concern for refugees fleeing Iraq and Syria and a sincere desire to find viable solutions for them.
Many people otherwise unmoved by displacement were shaken by the images of the Aylan Kurdi, who washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean; Germans and Austrians have given Syrians an encouraging welcome; and recently, a few private-sector philanthropists have announced ambitious projects to benefit refugees, while nations have been deliberating on workable solutions.
I’ve never been more convinced that our idea is realistic and possible.
At the same time, public sentiment has already begun to fade. Fear of outsiders, including refugees, has always been with us. Hungary’s harsh tactics at its border and unfounded fears in the US about refugee terrorists are prime examples. Clearly, we cannot trust in the next wave of empathy to cause lasting change.
What the world needs is a practical solution for unleashing the potential of refugees while they are displaced. The solution must acknowledge countries’ unwillingness to admit more refugees, even when it would be in their best interest, and creatively respond with politically feasible, next-step alternatives that bring real opportunities for refugees now.
We cannot let another generation grow up in refugee camps, without access to education or employment, endlessly waiting. We must act now.
– Michael Castle Miller
Photo: “Equal rights for all” (Refugee Solidarity Demonstration) on February 16, 2013, in Vienna / photo by Haeferl