On World Refugee Day this Tuesday, politicians, religious leaders and aid agencies urge greater international effort to alleviate the suffering of refugees. Among other things, minimum standards are demanded.
"Violent conflicts, persecution and massive human rights violations are forcing more and more people to flee around the world," German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) said Tuesday. Often, they cannot return safely to their home countries for years and are dependent on reliable international protection.
Gabriel praised the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR as "the most important partner in humanitarian aid". Last year, the Federal Foreign Office provided the UNHCR with more money than ever before, around 307 million euros.
Migration Commissioner: "Need pan-European response"
The German government already called on Monday for a pan-European response to the challenges of refugee and migration policy. "We finally need a stringent, European strategy to combat the causes of flight that is worthy of the name," said Migration Commissioner Aydan ozoguz (SPD).
The Deputy UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Volker Turk, said on ZDF-Morgenmagazin: "The international community must help the affected countries and fight the causes of flight."He called Germany a pioneer in this area and hoped that it would also take the lead at the G20 summit.
Pope meets refugees
Pope Francis already met 30 refugees and asylum seekers in Rome on Monday evening on the occasion of the United Nations World Refugee Day. The meeting took place in a hall next to the Lateran Basilica. The refugees and asylum seekers in question were accommodated in church facilities in the Italian capital. Afterwards, the Pope opened a congress of the diocese of Rome in the Lateran Basilica.
Already on Sunday, after the Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square, the pope had again called for overcoming prejudices against refugees on this occasion.
Francis had called on all Catholic parishes to welcome a refugee family in September 2015. Since then, according to the diocese of Rome, 38 parishes and church institutions have taken in a total of 121 refugees and asylum seekers.
Bishop Batzing in favor of family reunification
In a video message, Limburg Bishop Georg Batzing spoke out in favor of family reunification and against deportations to unsafe countries. "As bishops, we are committed to ensuring that those who come from war zones and seek protection with us can bring their families to join them," Batzing said on the Facebook page of the Limburg diocese.
President Rekowski: "No one has to earn dignity"
Meanwhile, Rhenish President Manfred Rekowski has stressed the obligation of Christians to help refugees. "God created all people in his image and thus gave them an inviolable dignity," Rekowski wrote on his blog Tuesday on the occasion of World Refugee Day. "No one has to earn that dignity. All people are different, yet equally valuable."
"For us as Christians, it is a special obligation to help the refugees who have been welcomed into our country and to stand up for them," wrote the president of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, who is also chairman of the Chamber for Migration and Integration of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).
Abuse commissioner calls for standards of protection in refugee homes
Legal protective measures against sexual assaults on women and children in refugee shelters are demanded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Abuse, Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig. The Grand Coalition should adopt appropriate plans before the summer break in the Bundestag, said Rorig on Tuesday in the WDR5-"Morgenecho" on the occasion of World Refugee Day.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment in refugee shelters are very common and a major problem, the Independent Representative on Child Sexual Abuse stressed. According to a study by the UN children's agency Unicef, ten percent of all minors in shelters have already been victims of violence. The policy had reacted to the problem so far too hesitantly.
Whether there are offers of help for children and women in shelters depends strongly on the commitment of the sponsor, said Rorig. As examples, he cited separate accommodation for families and women traveling alone with children, lockable living quarters and supervised play and recreational areas for children. "I don't want it to depend on chance whether a child or woman who has fled lives in a facility that ensures such protections," he said.
Therefore, it is important that the law to ensure protection standards in refugee shelters is passed before the summer break, Rorig said. The Bundestag will meet for the last time in this legislative period on 30 June. June together.
Bread for the World calls for legal entry routes for refugees
The Protestant relief organization Bread for the World is calling for more legal entry routes for refugees into the EU. "We finally need legal escape routes and regulated entry possibilities," the aid agency's president, Cornelia Fullkrug-Weitzel, said Tuesday. Only in this way can the deaths be stopped and the smugglers be deprived of their business model.
In addition, Fullkrug-Weitzel said it would be a "very dangerous development" if the EU decided to only accept refugees from states that were "actively" involved in fighting irregular migration. "The current procedures of the UN refugee agency would thus be practically abolished," Fullkrug-Weitzel said.
Bread for the World also called for more help at the EU's external borders. The EU sends too little aid and rescue ships into the danger zone. "Civilian sea rescuers are being discredited by targeted defamation campaigns, instead of being protected by the government side," the president said. Military operations against smugglers did not improve humanitarian situation of refugees.
On Thursday and Friday, EU heads of state and government will meet in Brussels. On the agenda, among other things, is migration.
Precarious situation of Syrian refugees in Jordan
The aid organization Care drew attention to the situation of Syrian refugees in neighboring Jordan. 82 percent of them lived below the poverty line. "Seven Years into Exile" study shows dependence on aid growing in seventh year of Syria crisis. Overall, 40 percent of refugees surveyed reported aid as their only source of income – an increase of 7 percent compared to the previous year.
Care Emergency Coordinator in the Middle East, Marten Mylius, said, "Mothers and fathers give everything to feed their families, but without income, refugees fall deeper and deeper into a spiral of poverty and debt." Syrian protection seekers in Jordan additionally face sharply changing gender roles, he said. "Women must increasingly support their families financially, in some cases as the sole head of the family," Mylius said.
Minimum standards for protection in refugee shelters demanded
Meanwhile, "Plan International Germany" pointed out that refugees in Germany should not be isolated. That's why the organization is calling for refugee children and adults to be involved in the revision of uniform federal minimum standards for protection in refugee shelters. "Having a say should not be a luxury, it is a right," said Executive Director Maike Rottger.
"Children and young people want to be involved in the processes that affect them."
Refugee numbers in 2016 reached the highest level ever recorded, according to United Nations data. According to the report, 65.6 million people worldwide were on the run, according to a report presented on Monday by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).