Lately it has come to my attention that there is an individual called Jason Buzi, a billionaire, who wishes to solve the refugee issue once and for all. With his project Refugee Nation he wishes to create a country for all the world’s refugees to live in, where they would be granted with basic human rights and permanent residence. It is a noble idea, however it seems highly unlikely that Buzi’s plan will succeed for, at its current state, it ignores the reality of bringing people of different ethnicities under one nation.
In simple terms, Buzi’s plan is to create a new nation by either “conquering” a volunteer country or by establishing one in a sparsely inhabited region of an existing country. In other words, Buzi needs a martyr country that will willingly give up some of its areas or resources in exchange for “compensation” from the world community. In this country, the primary language would be English, a democratic multiparty government would be established and everyone had a freedom of speech and religion. Everyone granted with refugee status will be given a citizenship and a permission to live in this country as long as they please.
The first question one is bound to ask is whether Refugee Nation will be open for economical refugees who usually aren’t granted a refugee status. What about individuals whose identity cannot be verified or those who qualify as refugees but may be considered dangerous for those already living in the Refugee Nation? These are issues all countries have to struggle with and, unfortunately, creating another country for refugees to migrate to won’t make these questions any less current. There will always be people, who, for reason or another, will not qualify and will have to be sent back home or granted a temporary visa (which will inevitably lead to possibly dangerous individuals entering the country whether people wanted it or not).
Another major issue with Buzi’s plan is finding the martyr. As an example of possible candidates, he has named Northern California, Finland and the thousands of uninhabited islands in the Philippines and Indonesia. He admits that it is very unlikely these countries will simply give up some of their lands, unused as they may be. But he claims that “there is a growing awareness, especially in more evolved societies, that we are interconnected as a planet and as a human race. That we can no longer ignore what is happening in ‘remote’ parts of the world, and that root causes of the refugee crisis could soon arrive on the shores of any nation.” I believe Buzi is giving too much credit to human benevolence.
The people are already afraid of immigrants bringing restlessness with them and no country would voluntarily share a border with such a country. The risk of the project turning into a crisis is too big. Buzi’s argument that these ethnic groups should get along because there is no “single group” in majority is pure naivety. There is bound to be tension between groups of people due to disputes in religion and culture. Law is closely connected with culture and trying to impose a western justice system on people of another culture has proven unsuccessful in the past. Therefore finding a system that is righteous and suits everybody will take years and in the meantime these people should somehow be kept under control.
With that said, if we could create a utopia where there is certain to be no war or crisis, we’d all be living in one. The biggest issue with creating a Refugee Nation is that in the future we might have refugees escaping the country that was tailored to be their paradise. This raises the question whether it even makes sense to try establishing a Refugee Nation in the first place.
The areas Buzi has suggested for Refugee Nation are problematic as well. While it is true Finland has the population density of <20/km2, this does not mean that massive areas of land are being left unused. While few people manage to strive on the countryside by cultivating the land they own, the country’s lack of infrastructure in less inhabited areas is forcing the rest of the people to migrate into cities. It would take decades if not centuries to make this area sustainably inhabitable. Until then, there is simply little to no economy in the areas Buzi is suggesting and it seems unlikely that even refugees would voluntarily migrate to the Stone Age.
But what if an already existing nation was turned into a Refugee Nation? It seems likely that such country would be split into refugee ghettos and native neighbourhoods. Social inequality would eventually follow.
The idea of a Refugee Nation is… nice and well intentioned despite its obvious “let’s send them elsewhere”-ideology. The problem with the plan is that it is likely to never happen; people have held on to these lands, remote as they may be, for a reason and global “good will” simply won’t guarantee that the trial won’t end in a disaster.
Refugee Nation online: http://www.refugeenation.org