One of the main themes in this book is the idea that refuge must be understood as not only a humanitarian issue but also one of development.

Alexander Betts and Paul Collier in Refuge (2017: 10).

In late March 2017, Alexander Betts and Paul Collier published Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System. The book caught considerable attention in the spheres of policy-makers and academics. Here, I have collected a number of thoughtful reviews that offer both criticism and praise for Refuge. It’s a good place to start if you would like to know how the book has been received and seek to engage more thoroughly with the ideas it presents.

I link to reviews that I found helpful while reflecting on the ideas in the book. Certainly, there are pieces out there that I have not heard of and did not list here. If I come across additional sources, I will add them to this list.

First: In the authors’ own words

If you want to understand the arguments that Betts and Collier present, the best place to start is by reading their book. You can get a glimpse of the argument by reading the following article and listening to the following podcast (note that these two are not identical.)

ARTICLE: Alexander Betts and Paul Collier. “Why denying refugees the right to work is a catastrophic error.” The Guardian, 22 March 2017.

PODCAST: Politics Weekly Podcast. “Can politicians solve the refugee crisis?” Presented by Heather Stewart with Paul Collier, Alexander Betts, and Kate Lyons, produced by Phil Maynard. The Guardian, 6 April 2017.

Second: How have others reviewed the book?

TWITTER THREAD: Benjamin Thomas White. “Live Tweeting #Refuge.” May 2017. (highly recommended)

PODCAST: Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies and the Migration Research Group. “Here’s how to fix the refugee crisis! Or perhaps not?” Seminar, 2 May 2017. (highly recommended)

This podcast offers short analyses by Frode Forfang (Director General of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration), Marta Bivand Erdal (Senior Researcher, PRIO), Pål Nesse (Senior Advisor, Norwegian Research Council), and Cindy Horst (Research Director, PRIO). The podcast also includes a brief Q&A session at the end.

ARTICLE: Heaven Crawley. “Migration: Refugee economics.” Nature 544 (April 2017): 26-17. (Note that this was among the earliest reviews published.)

ARTICLE: Marta Bivand Erdal. “For too many refugees, life passes while waiting for return.” Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies, 19 May 2017.

ARTICLE: Cecilia M. Bailliet. “Response to Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System.” Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies, 22 May 2017.

ARTICLE: Shaun Hargreaves Heap. “Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System.” Refugee History, 19 May 2017.

Reply by Betts and Collier: “Review Response: Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System.” Refugee History, 24 May 2017.

VIDEO/PODCAST: Overseas Development Institute. “Refugees: Are Jobs the Answer?” Panel, 11 May 2017.

The speakers of this panel discussion include Alexander Betts (University of Oxford), Heaven Crawley (Coventry University), Manjula Luthria (World Bank), and Sayre Nyce (Talent Beyond Borders).

MEDIA REVIEWS: The Refugee Studies Centre offers a collection of reviews by media outlets. Here, I have chosen to highlight two reviews  one by The Economist and one by The Times Literary Supplement. For further media reactions, please consult the aforementioned collection.

The Economist. “How to improve prospects for refugees. Growing up in a refugee camp means little education and no jobs.” 15 April 2017.

Alexander van Tulleken. “Lives on hold.” The Times Literary Supplement, 26 April 2017.

Behzad Yaghmaian. “How Not to Fix the Refugee Crisis — A Response to Refuge.” Refugees Deeply, 20 April 2017.

BACKGROUND ON JORDAN COMPACT: In Refuge, Betts and Collier repeatedly refer to an example from Jordan. Here are two links for this example.

Sara Elizabeth Williams. “Jordan looks to turn refugee crisis into economic boon.” IRIN News, 21 March 2017.

Heaven Crawley. “Why jobs in special economic zones won’t solve the problems facing the world’s refugees.” The Conversation, 6 April 2017.

Heaven Crawley. “Providing jobs for refugees won’t fix the broken system.” Europe’s World, 23 May 2017.

I hope this was helpful!

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