• Refugee Camp (Wikimedia)

The UK population is 65.4 million. Imagine if, through no fault of its own, the entire UK was suddenly homeless, with no schools, no work, living in fear, and persecuted worldwide.  A lost generation, abandoned with no future. Parents tearing themselves apart, unable to protect or nurture their families.

There are 65.3 million people forcibly displaced from their homes worldwide. For them, this is reality, today. Forced out by war, tribal or “humanitarian”, they flee to relatives worldwide on incredible journeys that become blocked by small-minded governments. Human cattle herded into camps or human rights abuse by the Turkish state.

In Turkey, children find sweatshops instead of schools. In camps, and on the journey, brilliant adults and children see their futures go to waste, while governments waste their money on security, fuelling human traffickers.

Why not spend some of the millions spent on weapons and security on projects that maximise such people’s potential, creating paths from the camps and harnessing the benefit of skilled refugees to the UK? Refugee camps exist as prisons. But with schools and training in camps, children would continue having the education they had before the bombs fell. Community allotments would allow home-grown food, championing sustainability, and reducing burden while people wait for realistic routes into wider society.

Partnerships with businesses would identify and fill necessary skill shortages in the labour market. Funding would support refugees in starting their own businesses, stimulating economic growth and generating tax revenue. From my limited experience in Calais, many refugees have vast qualifications recognised in their past home, but not in the UK. This requires simply sitting UK exams in their given expertise. The individual could then be offered a visa, perhaps in an Australian-style points system.

Refugee camps should offer prospects of progressing smoothly into society, meanwhile regenerating the wastelands they inhabit through agricultural and social irrigation.

Awful, average or astonishing? You decide: