Friday 20 April 2018

Bono calls for 'Marshall Plan' in response to refugee crisis

Bono: ‘Some families have spent generations as refugees’
Bono: ‘Some families have spent generations as refugees’

Ronan Abayawickrema

Bono has called for a new 'Marshall Plan' for the Middle East and North Africa in response to the refugee crisis.

Writing in 'The New York Times', the U2 frontman and human rights campaigner said that an initiative similar to the huge US aid package provided to western European nations in the wake of the devastation of World War II is urgently needed to shore up countries "that may yet spiral into anarchy".

He also called for increased humanitarian support for refugees and the countries to which they have fled.

Speaking of the Marshall Plan, he wrote: "That plan delivered trade and development in service of security - in places where institutions were broken and hope had been lost".

He said that the same approach is now needed to prevent other nations "that have not collapsed but are racked by conflict, corruption and weak governance" from suffering the same fate as Syria and making the refugee crisis even worse than it is at the moment.

"What we don't want and can't afford is to have important countries in the Sahel, the band of countries just south of the Sahara, going the same way as Syria," he wrote.


"If Nigeria, a country many times larger than Syria, were to fracture as a result of groups like Boko Haram, we are going to wish we had been thinking bigger before the storm."

The singer has recently returned from the Middle East and East Africa, where he visited several refugee camps, which he described as "car parks of humanity".

Citing the description of the refugee crisis by the senior UN official for international migration Peter Sutherland as "the worst crisis of forced displacement since World War II", Bono also warned against viewing the current situation as a temporary one.

"I guess it depends on your definition of 'temporary,' but I didn't meet many refugees, some of whom have been displaced for decades, who felt that they were just passing through.

"Some families have spent two generations - and some young people their entire lives - as refugees. They have been exiled by their home countries only to face a second exile in the countries that have accepted their presence but not their right to move or to work.

"You hear the term 'permanent temporary solution' thrown around by officials, but not with the irony you'd think it deserves."

Calling for a big-picture response to the crisis, the U2 singer said: "The United States and other developed nations have a chance to act smarter, think bigger and move faster in addressing this crisis and preventing the next one."

He asked these developed nations to "help host countries see refugees not just as a burden, but as a benefit.

"The international community could be doing much more, through development assistance and trade deals, to encourage businesses and states hosting refugees to see the upside of people's hands being occupied and not idle (the World Bank and the Scriptures agree on this).

"The refugees want to work. They were shopkeepers, teachers and musicians at home, and want to be these things again, or maybe become new things - if they can get education, training and access to the labour market."

Irish Independent

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