Skip to main content

In February 2016, Alexander Betts gave a powerful talk on the refugee crisis in a packed closing session of the TED 2016 conference in Vancouver. In this talk, which has been viewed over 600,000 times, Betts calls for people to see refugees as individuals with skills, talents and ambitions, deserving of more than the inadequate choices currently available to them. “The current system is failing”, he says. “In theory, refugees have a right to seek asylum. In practice, immigration control blocks the path to safety. In theory, refugees are meant to receive a pathway to long-term integration or return. In practice, they get trapped indefinitely in limbo. In theory, refugees are a shared global responsibility. In practice, geography means that countries proximate to conflict take the overwhelming number of refugees. The system is not failing because the basic rules are wrong but because we are choosing not to apply them.”