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Tackling the root causes of displacement – supporting refugees – strengthening host communities

Worldwide, there are more than 65 million displaced people – more than at any other time since World War II. These people are fleeing from oppression and persecution, from war and from human rights abuses. Many thousands more have had to leave their homes because of natural disasters. And there is no end to this dramatic situation in sight.

At present, it is Syrians that constitute the biggest single group of displaced persons – almost 12 million. About 6.6 million are internally displaced persons still living in Syria and over 4.9 million have fled to other countries. Most of the people who have fled from Syria have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. Only 10 per cent of these people are living in refugee camps, whilst the rest of them have found a place to stay in towns and villages.

Measures to address the refugee crisis are a matter of top priority for German development policy. The work that the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is doing in this regard follows a three-pronged approach: tackling the root causes of displacement, supporting refugees, and stabilising and strengthening host communities. Over the course of the current legislative period the BMZ is providing more than twelve billion euros for this work.

In 2016 alone, more than three billion euros from the BMZ budget was used for activities to address "Displacement and Development".

BMZ special initiatives

In order to be in a position to respond more flexibly to the needs of refugees, the BMZ has launched three special initiatives: 'Tackling the root causes of displacement, reintegrating refugees'; 'Stability and development in the MENA region'; and 'ONE WORLD – No Hunger'.

Germany is also working to further increase its activities in the fields of crisis response, recovery and infrastructure. Through measures such as these, Germany is able to improve the situation for people in fragile states and regions or in the wake of crises and natural disasters.

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

Areas in which Germany is actively engaged

In regional terms, Germany's activities focus on Syria, 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.

The activities of the BMZ address three areas of intervention that correspond to the aforementioned three-pronged approach and in many instances complement each other: tackling the root causes of displacement, supporting refugees, and stabilising and strengthening host communities. The main focus is on medium- to long-term measures, specifically: schools for children, vocational training for young people and jobs for adults. Furthermore, all other areas of action under bilateral German development cooperation contribute significantly towards tackling the root causes of displacement and strengthening countries of origin and transit and host countries.

The three areas for action of the BMZ Special Initiative

Tackling the root causes of displacement

Germany is helping countries in crisis to stabilise their political and economic situation and rebuild institutions that have been destroyed. It also helps partner countries to pursue conflict prevention policies tailored to their needs, and taking into account each country's culture and potential sources of conflict, thereby preventing displacement from happening in the first place.

Stabilising host regions

The majority of refugees find shelter in neighbouring countries. However, the infrastructure of these countries is often not very robust. In order to ensure that refugees have access to basic supplies in their host regions, and to help stabilise these host countries, Germany is investing in developing local infrastructure.

Supporting displaced persons and returnees

Germany is supporting displaced people and host communities in emergency situations, and is helping people to help themselves in several ways, especially with regard to education and employment. Measures such as these give refugees a chance to lead largely self-determined lives in their host country. Returnees should be able to put the skills they have learnt whilst living in a foreign country to use for their own benefit and for the benefit of those around them.

The BMZ's programme "Returning to New Opportunities"

Many people awaiting repatriation to their countries of origin are unaware of what support programmes may be available back home to help them resettle and find good prospects for the future. Their decision to leave Germany may also be made more difficult by the knowledge that the communities to which they return will often have high expectations of them. More information can be found here.

Cash for work: Job campaign gives people new opportunities

"The assistance reaches the people directly and helps promote peace. This joint campaign makes it possible to reduce tensions between people," says Emad Azzam, Mayor of the Department of Wasatieh, Jordan.

The Department is faced with enormous challenges as a result of the influx of Syrian refugees, for example with regard to waste management. Under a cash-for-work programme, the BMZ finances the wages of Jordanians and Syrians who are now jointly collecting waste in Wasatieh.

Through this and other ongoing projects, more than 56,000 jobs had been created in the region around Syria before the end of 2016, improving the living conditions and prospects of up to 280,000 people.

More information can be found here.

"Most of the refugees I have met just want – like almost everyone – to have a future in their home countries. They want to live where their homes are, and their families – just like we do. They need our support and assistance to help them realise this desire."

German Development Minister Gerd Müller