Leaders walk in shoes of refugees
Standing in a dark room, I was taken aback by the sound of guns as shouting soldiers burst in, hurtling us this way and that. In the noisy, humid air rank with smoke, I could make no sense ofmy surroundings.
In that moment, I almost forgot that I was at theWorld Economic Forum in Davos, in the Swiss Alps, where global elites gather every year.
Indeed, I was, but I also was in a 75-minute simulation created by the Crossroads Foundation to help forum participants understand refugees’ plight.
We were given a new identity and put into cramped, noisy camps to routinely be inspected, interrogated, insulted and threatened. Although staged, the intense experience made me empathize with refugees.
Participants seemed to understand that global development is not just about growth and political promises, but improving the lives of everyone in society, especially those who feel marginalized.
Inclusive growth was a key part of President Xi Jinping’s powerful opening speech at the forum this year, and I felt deeply moved when I heard him express compassion for the recent waves of refugees from theMiddle East andNorth Africa.
“Several million people have been displaced, and some small children lost their lives while crossing the rough sea. This is indeed heartbreaking,” I heard him say.
Xi said the solution lies in making peace, promoting reconciliation and restoring stability— solutions China has championed.
China promised to join the newPeacekeeping Capability Readiness System and committed a standby military force of 8,000. China also will train 2,000 international peacekeepers, provide $100 million in military aid to the African Union, and send its first helicopter squad to peacekeeping operations in Africa. Those commitments are now in the process of being implemented.
I will not forget the plight of the refugees from theMiddle East andNorth Africa, and I felt proud that our president cares so much about their situation.