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Opinion: Granting refugees the right to work can help revitalize economies (Devex)

November 8, 2018

By Gideon Maltz, Cindy Huang

From the article:

The discussion of refugees focuses too often on high-income countries in North America and Europe. In fact, it falls to a handful of middle- and low-income countries, such as Lebanon, Kenya, and Bangladesh, to host the majority of refugees around the world — and indeed to host refugees from intractable crises, such as Syria, Somalia, and Myanmar, that are likely to prevent refugees from returning for years or decades.

These countries bear a tremendous responsibility — and deserve more credit than they get from the international community — but too often they limit their own potential by preventing the refugee populations they host from working or owning a business.

In most of these countries — where 85 percent of the world’s 25 million refugees live — there is one policy in particular that is vital but rarely utilized: those preventing refugees from working legally or starting a business. Even in places where refugees technically have the right to work, fees, permits, and other restrictions can significantly restrict conditions.

Research shows that when refugees can work formally, they have more productive work, and can make more money — which in turn means that refugees spend more money on local goods and services and generate more tax revenue. When refugees start their own businesses, they create more jobs for hosts. In Turkey, Syrian refugees have started more than 6,000 companies and created more than 55,000 jobs since 2011, to the benefit of citizens and the economy.

Read the full article here.


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Photo of Cindy Huang
Co-Director of Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy and Senior Policy Fellow