How Refugees Improve Countries

More than 1.3 million refugees sought asylum in Europe in 2015 alone, the influx demonstrating the escalating urgency of the refugee crisis. As these unprecedented numbers flow in, refugee camps have been pushed far past the limits of their capacities and countries within the European Union have struggled to negotiate sharing the burden.

Citizens of these countries fear that the refugee influx could threaten safety and job security. For those who do not find humanitarian duty reason enough to intervene, the situation leaves many wondering how refugees improve countries.

However, a number of unexpected benefits of refugees entering a country make stepping up in this humanitarian crisis potentially beneficial for both parties. Below are six ways in which refugees improve countries to which they’ve been granted resettlement.

  1. Retirement Support
    Germany has been at the forefront of countries extending open arms to refugees–announcing that it will accept 800,000. The country also has the lowest birth rate in the world, which continues to decline at a fast pace. In order to support the aging community and state pension system, an estimated 1.5 million skilled immigrants is needed. By 2060, Hamburg’s World Economy anticipates that Germany will need two workers to support each individual in retirement. As a result, there is a significant opportunity for refugees to improve countries with declining birth rates.
  2. Multiplier Effects
    The biggest receivers of refugees have also become focus areas for humanitarian aid. While often this aid is woefully insufficient, what does come can accomplish a great deal for the host nation itself. It is estimated by the United Nations that in countries like Lebanon, the multiplier effect of aid means that every U.S. dollar worth of assistance generates $0.50 for the local economy.
  3. Human Capital
    Companies looking to grow need skilled, young workers to take on the roles of aging European work forces. Notably, the head of Mercedes Benz, Dieter Zetsche, has expressed that refugee workers are precisely what countries like Germany and corporations like Mercedes Benz need.
  4. Larger Tax Base
    Putting systems in place to allow refugees to become employed and contribute to society creates a larger tax base. This enables refugees to help improve countries by decreasing tax burden, maintaining state systems and increasing public services.
  5. Security Benefits
    A number of potential security benefits may come with accepting refugees from the Middle East to countries like the U.S. These movements have the ability to counter the anti-U.S. propaganda that many radical groups like ISIS depend on. The migration of people and the decreased potency of propaganda could deprive radical groups of the resources and recruits that they need. In addition, the inclusivity and acceptance which comes from welcoming refugees to Western parts of the world has the potential to decrease the marginalization of Muslim and Middle Eastern people living in the West. This could be a potent tool against internal-radicalization.
  6. Invaluable Intelligence
    Obtaining information regarding realities on the ground in areas like Syria has been a large obstacle for the U.S. and other countries involved in combating terrorism. Patrick Eddington, a former CIA intelligence officer, has described Syrian refugees in the U.S. as the most valuable source of insight regarding the realities of living in ISIS-controlled territory. Through Syrian refugees, intelligence has been obtained regarding ISIS funding, leadership and military-related inventory. Therefore, refugees improve countries combating terrorism by contributing to security and intelligence needs.

These six examples of how refugees improve countries of resettlement demonstrate the multifaceted contributions of refugee populations. By joining the formal workforce, they have the potential to offset varying degrees of the economic burden which accompanies a humanitarian crisis and influx of migrants. Intelligence contribution and the decreased marginalization of refugees also offer significant security benefits. Finally, facilitating the movement of refugees to safety can decrease the efficacy of extremist propaganda and recruitment tactics.

Charlotte Bellomy