Europe needs a Marshall Plan for refugee aid financed by financial transactions

Europe is facing the worst refugee crisis since World War II, United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Philippe Douste-Blazy says—the European Union should levy a tax on financial transactions to fund a new Marshall Plan to deal with it.


The scale of the refugee problem is high.  Some recent statistics:

- 6 500 people, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia, rescued in the Mediterranean off of 40 boats by Doctors Without Borders and a Spanish NGO
- 1 100 migrants rescued in the Strait of Sicily by NGOs
- More than 105,000 people have made it to Italy this year—about the same number during the entire year of 2015
- And on and on—thousands and thousands of people.


The photographs of these poor people are harrowing: haggard, fearful faces, terrified children, desperate people hanging onto boats and floatation devices for dear life. They risk their lives every day to escape to a better future and many drown at sea, are crushed by trucks in the Channel Tunnel or electrocuted by railway cables.  It makes one wonder about the horrors they face in their home countries to want to risk their lives in this way.


There is a long-term solution for the refugee crisis. 
New financing mechanisms can be created for humanitarian aid, refugee rescue operations, accommodation, food, medical care for the refugees and schooling for the children.  This can be done by adding micro-contributions to globalised activities such as telecommunications, mining and minerals, travel and tourism—or the financial transactions, as advocated by Douste-Blazy. There are many other potential untapped sources of revenue which could be harnessed for this purpose. The contributions are so small they are hardly felt by developed nations. 


Wouldn’t you feel good if you knew that every time you made a telephone call, you were saving a refugee’s life—helping to finance a long-term solution for the refugee crisis?


Global Voice Group (GVG) uses incoming international telephone traffic to unlock new revenue streams which can then be used to finance development or humanitarian projects. This is an Innovative Financing for Development mechanism. It is a broad-based surcharge which has a minimal impact on local subscribers and service providers. Furthermore, as the country is using its own resources, it does not incur any additional debt.  It is a smart and powerful revenue-raising solution for any country. Many countries are already using it and the challenge is to find an appropriate revenue stream to which all countries can contribute. 


GVG’s innovative telecoms governance solutions optimise the revenues generated by international incoming telephone traffic and protect them from fraudulent activities. GVG has helped many countries generate billions of dollars that are now being used for development projects. These revenues could be more widely employed and used for humanitarian purposes.


The refugee crisis cannot continue to be approached in a haphazard way.  What is required is solidarity and commitment in the face of the plight of desperate people. Unless we want to go down in the history books as the generation that turned its back on the desperate situation of people in need of help, European countries need to put in place an efficient system and an action plan to which all the countries in the world can contribute.


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