BLOG: To rehouse refugees

I read a blog post by Anne-Marie Slaughter about different ideas for how to rehouse refugees. It argues that

“[…] it is time to embrace the prospect not of camps but of cities – places where up to a million refugees of any particular nationality can live safely and learn how to build a better future.”

Further down in the text the author continues:

“ […] refugee settlements should be fundamentally re-conceived – as hubs of education, enterprise, and equal rights that
can anchor networks of relatives and friends that extend back home and around the world

I could not agree more. Being part of IFHP which origins lie in the Garden City Movement in the UK and was founded in 1913, the social concerns for making cities better places for people are part of my DNA.
It is time to reflect and innovate the way Europe is dealing with the refugee and migrant influx. And luckily many feel the same way. One idea, currently pursued by an Egyptian billionaire, is to buy deserted islands and let refugees establish the society they need. Inspired by the Chinese urbanisation strategy another idea is to build cities in the neighbouring countries for the migrants/refugees, which also will benefit the existing population.

I wonder what it is I do not understand? We are discussing where to rehouse newcomers:
1. as if it is a thing that we can fix
2. because we have to as they already are here
3. for humanitarian reasons

Looking back to learnings from history, outstanding and prosperous civilisations taking a leap of faith often were exposed to either hostile take-overs or a more friendly influx of new comers. Civilisations succumbing often do so due to an inability to adapt to the impact, – it being climate changes, new inventions or learnings.

Part of adapting is to innovate and develop; Europeans’ life expectancy is rising while the birth rate is declining. So why:

– do our governments not argue we need newcomers?
– are we not competing to attract newcomers to adapt new challenges and to insure a prosperous future?
– Why do I seem to missing out on the explanation, explaining the current strategy?


Christina Krog
Christina Krog
Member of the IFHP office in Copenhagen
Project Manager of the Housing Refugees Programme

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are those of the authors of the blogposts and do not necessarily reflect those of the International Federation of Housing and Planning.