Should we let refugees into our country

CARE on refugee policy: Solutions instead of deterrence

Almost 80 million people were worldwide at the end of 2019 on the run. That's more than ever before. 80 percent of all displaced people are located in regions or countries that are affected by acute food insecurity and malnutrition.

“We must not forget that not so long ago our country and our families were also dependent on international support. The question today shouldn't be whether we can help, but how, ”said Karl-Otto Zentel, Secretary General of CARE. “We should focus on solutions, not how best to keep refugees out of Europe. "

CARE is therefore active in over 36 war and crisis areas worldwide. CARE helps refugees and internally displaced people with life-saving food, cash, accommodation, psychosocial support and, currently, with infection control measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. CARE also uses its many years of experience in working with refugees in Germany, in working with teachers. More about the KIWI project - culture, integration, values, initiative.


What CARE demands:

1. Don't politicize facts and figures

  • The main burden is borne by others: Worldwide there are almost 80 million Refugees and internally displaced persons. At the end of 2019, fewer than 10 percent of refugees were in Europe, and if you include internally displaced people, the proportion drops to 3.24 percent. Because most people do not save themselves to Europe, but to countries neighboring their homeland such as Turkey, Uganda, Pakistan or Lebanon. Germany is now in fifth place among the countries that host the most refugees. But: In Germany there is only one refugee for every 50 citizens. In Lebanon, on the other hand, every seventh person has a refugee background.
  • There have been major refugee movements in the past:After the Second World War, more than 40 million people within Europe were on the run. This challenge was also met. The historical example shows that solutions can be found if the will is there. Refugees could be distributed fairly, taking into account national reception capacities. Due to their legal obligations, which result primarily from human rights and the Geneva Refugee Convention, governments have to find common solutions here. It is not the resources that are lacking, but a uniform, solidary and transparent response. In the world and in Europe.
  • Flight and migration are not the same: Refugees had to leave their homeland because their safety or their lives are at risk there. At least for the time being, they cannot safely return to their homeland. Causes for flight can be, for example, war, persecution or natural disasters. Migration, on the other hand, is an umbrella term for all migratory movements. So every refugee is a migrant, but not every migrant is a refugee. The Geneva Refugee Convention regulates when a migrant is a refugee and has the right to asylum.
  • Migration brings advantages: The number of jobs in an economy is not a fixed number that comes under pressure from immigration. On the contrary: immigration creates new jobs and increases the demand for goods and services. The costs of a generous refugee policy are small in relation to the macroeconomic benefit it has in the medium and long term.


2. Resolve conflicts and combat the causes of flight

People who flee fear for their lives and that of their children. They leave war, violence and acute need behind and see no alternative to leaving their homeland. The top priority must therefore be to end violent conflicts. States must work together to find peaceful solutions, invest in civil conflict management and crisis prevention, and promote political and economic stability. Better climate protection policy and disaster risk management are also part of it. In the longer term, the aim is to enable the reconstruction of destroyed areas and sustainably improve local living conditions. However, this is a long-term process that requires financial resources and perseverance. CARE knows from its work over the past 75 years: Peace and better prospects are the best means against flight and despair. This also includes making political decision-makers in the countries of origin more accountable.


3. Adapt humanitarian aid to acute needs

Most people flee within their own country or to neighboring countries. Of the ten states that took in the most people in 2018, nine are low- or middle-income states. This is why poor host countries in particular need more support. Today we know: The massive underfunding of humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees in neighboring countries also contributed to people making their way to Europe in 2015. After food rations were cut, people saw no other way to survive.

The corona pandemic has made the situation even worse in many contexts around the world. Existing basic needs such as food and water, sanitation and shelter, as well as health care, protection and education must continue to be accessible. Therefore, additional, flexible and sufficient funds are needed to combat the coronavirus in refugee contexts. It is essential to prevent the virus from spreading, especially in the often overcrowded refugee camps.


4. Gender-specific help and participation of women and girls

Refugee women and girls know best what special support they need. That is why they themselves and local women's rights organizations must be involved both in the planning and in the implementation of aid measures. This also applies in particular to the corona pandemic, in which women in nursing, caring for children and many other areas often bear the brunt of the burden.

The solution is clear: women must be involved in decision-making at all levels. This is the only way to ensure that aid measures are tailored more specifically to people's needs and that particularly negative effects such as gender-based violence are taken into account.


5. Keep borders open and ensure protection and basic services in host countries

All states must comply with international refugee law and human rights.According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Refugee Convention, everyone has the right to asylum. The EU must therefore do everything within its borders and in the immediate vicinity to ensure that people are cared for in accordance with international standards and can apply for asylum. Neither the situation on the Greek islands or the Balkans nor the agreement between the EU and Turkey do justice to this claim.

It must be ensured that the Geneva Refugee Convention is consistently observed. Accordingly, a person on the run has about Right to protection and security of basic services. This responsibility cannot be ignored.

Border closings only lead to people taking more dangerous routes and paying even more money to smugglers. Legal migration routes make illegal escape routes, which involve criminal smuggling networks, obsolete.

In particular, the border closings, which were imposed or tightened in response to Covid-19, are currently having a major impact on asylum seekers and refugees. Because they prevent people from getting to safety. As a result, there is more violence, exploitation and abuse. As always, women and girls in particular suffer from this.