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One way to solve the refugee crisis

Boat people leaving Vietnam in 1982. Michel Setboum/Getty

Everyone acknowledges that the current refugee system isn’t working, says Rory Stewart on The Rest Is Politics. There are 100 million displaced people globally, 20 million of whom are “fleeing in fear of their life”. And the burden of taking in these refugees falls “very randomly”. Much of it is carried by countries in Africa, and places like Pakistan and Iran. In Europe, it’s obviously nations on the southern edge of the continent that are disproportionately affected. Yet the European countries that have taken in the most refugees are in the north: Germany and Sweden. And that’s partly because they understand that there is really only one solution to all this: “we need a global coalition on refugees”.

That might sound far-fetched, but something similar existed in the 1970s. To rehome the 800,000 or so Vietnamese boat people who fled their country after the end of the war in 1975, countries like the US, Canada, France and others “stepped forward to share the burden”. Today, you’d need developed nations to decide a “global number” for how many refugees they take in – 0.05% of their population each year, say, which is the equivalent of just one extra migrant family in a town of 10,000 people. If Britain and every other big country agreed to that – a “proper movement” – it would go a long way to fixing our current broken system.