To Kilian Kleinschmidt cities are places of hope and protection. Historically cities were the places where people went to gather together and be safe. That is why for him, in a way, all cities are refugee camps.
Cities are at the forefront of what its citizens experience. If the city works and is functional, citizens are happy. Kleinschmidt refers to the book “If Mayors Ruled The World” to point the importance of cities and the necessity to turn to the city as the unit that must function and perform, and not to put all focus on the nation-state.
To him, all societies are a result of forced migration processes. Life in refugee camps is so complicated that nowadays refugees only care about surviving, which makes it urgent to create and provide liveable spaces.
In this interview, Kilian Kleinschmidt advocates for a different look at migration. A look where new disciplines like culture and art contribute building a comfortable atmosphere. As he concludes, “anything that leads people learn new things beyond survival is extraordinary”.
About the authors
Kilian Kleinschmidt is a German entrepreneur and former UNHCR official who worked as director of the Zaatari refugee camp (Jordan), the second biggest one in the world. He has over 25 experience as humanitarian expert in a wide range of countries such as Somalia, Kosovo, Pakistan or Sri Lanka. He is the founder and chairman of the Startup Innovation and Planning Agency (IPA) which aims to connect the millions of poor and dispossessed with the idle and under-utilised resources and modern technologies.