We are all Refugees now… Facing a new Reality…

April 9, 2020

Johannes Cornelis (Hans) van Nieuwkerk

This is a letter recently received by Col. Zoltan Szabo (Ret) Director BORDERPOL Europe. It is reprinted here with the authors permission.


Dear Col. Szabó,

Everybody is at the moment looking for a safe haven. Consequently, I have been reflecting on the past 5 years in which I developed several solutions for refugees. My preliminary conclusion is that Refival’s three-step approach of shelter, adaptation and participation can add great value to address the current much wider crisis.

To begin with, we will first need to do the obvious, namely to stop spreading the virus and take all necessary measures to avoid preventable infections and deaths by sheltering into isolation. We need to physically distance ourselves whilst providing social support to anyone in need.

Our forced seclusion and its resulting economic fallout will likely have a traumatic impact, and many things will most probably never be the same again, afterward. Adaptation to such an altered reality will require both healing and collaboration; people will have to re-skill themselves and reconnect. The great challenge ahead is to avoid a split between winners and losers. Refival’s “Inclusion Sourcing” perspective, in which the privileged take responsibility for the inclusion of the deprived, would assist here well.

The next and final step to establish a new normality will be to optimize the participation of everyone. Refival’s “Universal Basic Employment” proposition not only addresses a future with robots and artificial intelligence, but it also frees people from exploitation and offers us a road to both self-fulfillment and togetherness. It does so by redefining the term “work”. Instead of using it in the current very narrow sense of a “paid job”, it considers every positive contribution to society valuable and qualifying to be remunerated with a basic income. Compensation is earned regardless of whether the executed task is currently classified as employment, volunteering, care for children/sickly/elderly or education leading to personal skills development. This means that other than UBI’s proposed unconditional income, UBE makes every individual’s engagement visible, which generates solidarity. For the current crisis, implementing UBE would mean to create a bottom-up stimulus which would economically safeguard, empower and maximize the contribution to society of all its citizens.

If UBE were introduced, companies would largely remain market-driven rather than becoming government subvention dependent. Instead of rebooting the economy exclusively top-down by entirely focusing on financing the indiscriminate restart of all previously existing businesses, UBE could play a substantial role in rebuilding a healthy economy and in matching the new reality’s supply and demand.

Applying a combination of inclusion sourcing and universal basic employment would prevent local social unrest and furthermore, on an international level, it would avert a strong increase in migration pressure. Supplying a safety net to all global citizens would make the World a better place to live. These inclusive goals can of course only be achieved by reciprocity, solidarity and by showing regard for each other. However, fighting a common “pandemic enemy” will teach us to value these prerequisites and achieve convergence.

On the more immediate practical level, Refival’s original target to relocate Syrian war-refugees to European countryside areas is no longer feasible. Since rural communities dominantly consist of elderly people, this will remain the case for as long as there is no medicine and corona vaccine readily available. I thus warmheartedly support Kilian Kleinschmidt’s alternative to urgently build new sustainable settlements for displaced people. Such newly built villages can replace the current fully unsuitable refugee camps and offer proper longer-term shelter and efficient adaptation programs to them.
Reviewing Refival, there are still some bottlenecks to be addressed and therefore I seek funding and partners for solving three urgent problems by new research & development projects:

-1- People suffering from anxiety are in great need for treatment. However, not many of them have access to a professional therapist. Many individuals are as a result unable to properly contribute to society. TRANXIETY is a brain-computer interface/neurofeedback based relaxation tool, which very likely can be used to independently teach or train people to control their anxiety. It has the potential to become part of a trauma recovery methodology. The therapeutic instrument and its related user interface are fully intuitive and need little or no instruction. However, professional supervision may be required to guide eventual unpredictable relief results.

-2- Individualized online learning is unavailable to many people and often comes at the price of a lack of social participation. IKNAL is an educational system based on personalized adaptive learning via the Internet in combination with community engagement and teaching compassion. It offers fully individualized knowledge transfer supplemented by fostering affinity and leadership. This enables flexible inclusion of disadvantaged students without limiting the progress of high performing ones. It thus offers access to education for all. Finally, the approach can handle multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-age environments.

-3- Fear of a difference in cultural and religious values has in Europe been a great hindrance to accept migrants. SAMADEUS targets to become a laity-driven, clergy-supported, interfaith initiative. Its mission is to bring people from all traditions together in order to share their common values instead of focusing on differences in worship. It targets to address and reduce fear of religious otherness, which has been one of the main obstacles in absorbing more Islamic refugees in Europe. By improving reciprocal religious understanding, it wants to achieve spiritual convergence.

Similar to “Inclusion Sourcing” and “Universal Basic Employment”, Tranxiety, IKNAL and Samadeus can be universally applied far beyond their initial design in relation to Syrian war-refugees. Doing so, and as soon as they are fully operational, these Refival frameworks can substantially contribute to bottom-up addressing inequality and replacing fear by trust. With the World being in great turmoil at the moment, let us learn a lesson from this and grab the chance to revitalize our societies by establishing a more inclusive, convergent, global community and prevent any future need for its members to seek refuge.

Kind Regards,

Johannes Cornelis (Hans) van Nieuwkerk
(Concept Developer & Initiator)