U2's Bono Shares How Western Nations Can Best Handle Refugee Crisis, Says it Places 'Existential Threat On European Unity'

( [email protected] ) Apr 13, 2016 12:27 PM EDT
Christian rocker Bono has shared what he believes is the best way to help refugees fleeing the violence and oppression prevalent in countries like Iraq and Syria.
U2 frontman Bono in Berlin on Nov. 13, 2015. Photo Credit: Reuters

Christian rocker Bono has shared what he believes is the best way to help refugees fleeing the violence and oppression prevalent in countries like Iraq and Syria.

In a lengthy op-ed for The New York Times, the U2 frontman and anti-poverty activist revealed he has visited a number of refugees throughout Africa and the Middle East, providing him with some insight as to how the current refugee crisis should be addressed.

"[The] mass exodus from collapsed countries like Syria is not just a Middle Eastern or African problem, it's a European problem. It's an American one, too. It affects us all," he writes.

Bono says he believes that Western Countries, which, he argues, have a chance to "act smarter, think bigger and move faster in addressing this crisis and preventing the next one," should emulate the Marshall Plan, in which the U.S. invested in Europe after WWII.

"That plan delivered trade and development in service of security - in places where institutions were broken and hope had been lost," Bono argued.

Such a plan would provide countries where refugees currently live with humanitarian assistance, educational resources and, ultimately, supporting job creation.

He writes: "They need development. Development that invests in them and empowers them - that treats them not as passive recipients but as leaders and partners. The world tends to give humanitarian efforts and development efforts their own separate bureaucracies and unlisted phone numbers, as if they're wholly separate concerns. But to be effective they need to be better coordinated; we have to link the two and fund them both. Refugees living in camps need food and shelter right away, but they also need the long-term benefits of education, training, jobs and financial security."

According to the BBC, more than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015. The report notes that conflict in Syria continues to be by far the biggest driver of migration, but the ongoing violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, abuses in Eritrea, as well as poverty in Kosovo, are also leading people to flee to European countries.

Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Bono warned that if the refugee crisis is not handled now, it could be a significant hurdle for the next president of the United States to overcome.

"What I learned from my trip along the border of Somalia and these camps along the borders of Syria saying - but what I learned from that trip with a lot of this work to get undone and furthermore, that it threatens the very existence of Europe. And that a big thing to lay on you at breakfast, and I know it's not on the front page of the news here. But the refugee crisis places an existential threat on European unity," he said.

"I wish I had better news to report and I think it's something to get ahead of," Bono added. "I know there's election fever and I can see why people are getting carried away. But the next president might spend his first term not just putting out fires, but forest fires if you don't get on top of this."