Refugee protection is multilateralism in action

24.06.2019 - Article

There are more than 70 million refugees around the world, writes the German Foreign Office. Here's what Germany is doing to find a shared response to this challenge.

Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh.
Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh.© Ute Grabowsky / Photothek.net

There are more than 70 million refugees around the world – the highest figure since the end of the Second World War. Half of them, as children and minors, need particular protection. The primary causes of displacement and forced migration are violent conflicts, massive violations of human rights and increasingly the impact of man-made global warming. Four out of five refugees are living close to their countries of origin. Most countries taking in refugees are emerging economies or developing countries who need help to provide the people with adequate supplies and accommodation.

Germany is thus engaged primarily in three areas to help tackle this global challenge:

Protecting refugees and creating prospects for the future

As the second-largest donor to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Germany is playing an important role in ensuring refugees around the world can live in safety and dignity. UNHCR is helping on the ground by making available foodstuffs, accommodation and healthcare. The Agency is also working to find long-term solutions for refugees. Many crises and conflicts that cause displacement have been raging for years. In their host countries, many refugees therefore need help to integrate and build long-term prospects.

Education plays a key role. Only one percent of refugees around the world have access to higher education. The Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI) is thus focusing on promoting young refugees’ access to universities. The German Foreign Office finances 90 percent of the DAFI budget. Since 1992, this funding has been used to grant 15,000 scholarships to young refugees. In 2018 alone, some 6500 students in 51 countries received a DAFI scholarship.

Resolving conflicts, tackling the root causes of displacement

Germany is also working hard to tackle the root causes that force people to flee their homes. Crisis-prevention projects help to ensure that people have no reason to flee their country in the first place. Alongside participation in peace missions, such projects include measures to strengthen local police structures in the Congo and promote the reconciliation process in Mali.

At European and multilateral level, Germany furthermore advocates defusing violent conflicts. Stabilisation projects in conflict and post-conflict situations recreate a safe environment, basic healthcare and functioning infrastructure and are thus giving refugees the opportunity to return to their home countries.

Fair distribution of responsibility

At the current time, just ten countries are hosting more than 80 percent of global refugees. With a view to sharing this responsibility across more shoulders, Germany as a major donor and host country played a key role in the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). The GCR is designed to distribute burdens in the refugee context more evenly internationally, to provide more support to the main host countries, particularly those in crisis regions, and to solve major refugee crises.

In December 2018, almost all member states of the United Nations voted for the GCR and are now working on implementing it. The Global Compact on Refugees is thus a prime example of Germany’s endeavours to find shared responses to global challenges.

© German Foreign Office

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