Slums Are Growing with an Influx of Refugees

The mass migration movements from Syria, and other countries across Africa, are in excess of 60 million displaced people. Recently plans for refugee camps have surfaced that on paper would support the refugees but in practice would be unable to contain the sheer mass of people without turning into slums with high crime rates. To put it in perspective one refugee camp to house 60 million displaced people equals a city 6.5 times the size of Mexico City. The logistics of clean water, food, power, and basic healthcare cannot be provided in one of these refugee camps, not only that, but these camps would only exacerbate existing problems in unemployment, education, and healthcare.

The refugee camp systems have already proven risky and ineffective in countries like Syria where youth have been drafted into violent gangs or terrorist organizations, women have experienced violent crimes some preferring the relative stability of living as ISIS brides, and disease and poverty become long-term systemic handicaps. These environments have created social welfare nightmares in epidemic proportions that continue to drain international resources in defense and Aid programming. It’s time to rethink the problem and arrive with fresh solutions.

Smart Cities are Smart Solutions to Resettlement

It must be approached in terms of urban and rural development in relatively stable locations politically and militarily. Sustainable urban planning around midsize cities and development between midsize cities so as to avoid draining the resources of one and connect resources across several cities will absorb the problem of resettling such large amounts of people. This will also create areas of regional security, environmental challenges, the control of employment, containment of disease, and educational needs to support continued sustainable economic growth.

Foreign Investment is Hurting Developing Countries

Currently, much of the developing world is engaged with China, Russia, and EU in terms of developing natural resources and establishing infrastructure and stability, and these engagements are known to be very one-sided to the advantage of the China, Russia, or EU based investors while countries like Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are likely to be acquired by these investors bit by bit in the form of loans, the building of roads, railways, nuclear energy facilities, mining, communications, etc.

This approach further creates investment opportunities for the US that could also provide competitive engagements setting new standards on the African and Middle Eastern continents where current economic deals with Russia and China have prospered to the detriment of economic and political independence for native countries. It is also possible to manage these types of investments so that they are reciprocal engagements aimed at rebuilding critical infrastructure and increasing foreign direct investment in developed countries.

If one compares the type of investment needed to service the needs of displaced populations with the needs of many U.S. inner cities and outdated infrastructure including roads, bridges, dams, water and energy systems as well as social services like education, employment, and health care, these are nearly identical including population growth and thus require the same multilayered types of development investment and sustainability, which means that these engagements can be set-up to cross-pollinate one another internationally. The building of a new energy facility in a country like Nigeria can be mirrored in a U.S. city like Detroit. This method also avoids costly social welfare and aid program hikes that do not provide a return on investment, it actually cuts those costs long term.

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