German activities

Tackling the root causes of displacement, stabilising host regions, supporting refugees

Syrian refugees in front of their accommodation in the Lebanese town of Baalbek

Tackling the root causes of displacement means investing in development.
German Development Minister Gerd Müller

The task of development cooperation is to assist people in developing countries in their efforts to live their lives in dignity, and to build a future for themselves and for their children. However, there are unfortunately millions of people who are unable to do that because they have been displaced by poverty, hunger and want, war, violence across borders, human rights violations, natural disasters, exclusion, or political, ethnic or religious discrimination.

In such emergency and crisis situations, the humanitarian assistance provided by the international community is a measure that ensures the survival of displaced people. Within the German government, the Federal Foreign Office is responsible for this kind of emergency relief. Development cooperation, on the other hand, is geared towards medium-term and long-term assistance. Its purpose is to stabilise the situation in crisis-affected regions on a long-term basis and to improve living conditions on the ground. The BMZ, which is responsible for development cooperation, coordinates its work closely with the Federal Foreign Office in order to ensure the best possible combination of humanitarian work and long-term development cooperation.

Finding a way to deal with the global refugee situation is a matter of top priority for German development policy. In 2016 alone, the BMZ provided more than 3 billion euros to tackle the structural causes of displacement, assist displaced people and stabilise host regions.

In regional terms, the BMZ's activities focus on the countries that neighbour Syria, North Africa, West Africa, the Horn of Africa, and South Sudan and the Central African Republic as well as their neighbouring countries. Further focal countries for the BMZ's work are Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Balkans (which are both a region of origin and a region of transit), and Ukraine with its many internally displaced persons.

Germany's response consists of a broad range of different actions. Here are some examples.

Special initiatives

Since the beginning of 2014, the BMZ has launched three special initiatives:

  • Tackling the root causes of displacement, reintegrating refugees
    Through this initiative, the BMZ provides short-term support to refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities, and it seeks to eliminate structural causes of displacement that have emerged over long periods, such as poverty, inequality and lack of food security. The BMZ wants to give refugees and internally displaced persons opportunities to take control of their own future, and to help host communities cope by supporting the expansion and maintenance of infrastructure and capacities.
  • Stability and development in the MENA region
    Through this initiative, the BMZ is responding to the political transformation in the region, supporting activities that help build peace, stabilise the economy and foster democracy. For example, jobs and training opportunities are being created for young people in Egypt and Tunisia in order to give them a better future. 
  • ONE WORLD – No Hunger
    Hunger is a catastrophe for everyone affected, and it is the greatest obstacle to development in poor countries. Often, food insecurity and hunger lead to violent conflict, which may in turn trigger displacement. The goal of the special initiative is to eradicate hunger and malnutrition and to lay the foundations so that a growing world population will still have sufficient food in the future. Activities under this initiative are geared, for example, towards creating jobs and income in rural areas, giving people fair access to land and protecting natural resources. Detailed information on the initiative can be found here.

Crisis response, recovery and infrastructure

Germany is working to further increase its activities in the fields of crisis response, recovery and infrastructure, through which it helps to improve the situation for people in fragile states and regions or in the wake of crises and natural disasters. More information can be found here.

In order to improve the situation of people in regions that are hosting particularly large numbers of refugees or internally displaced persons, the BMZ supports infrastructure programmes in the Middle East, North Africa, West Africa and Ukraine.

Bilateral cooperation with partner countries

The BMZ's general programmes of bilateral development cooperation are making significant contributions towards tackling the root causes of displacement and supporting host countries.

Areas of intervention of German development cooperation

The activities of the BMZ address four areas of intervention. In many instances, these areas overlap and complement each other:

BMZ glossary

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