Germany: helping the refugees

Submitted by Matthew on 30 September, 2015 - 12:29 Author: Alice

According to the statistics, those who volunteer to help refugees are either between 20 and 30 years old or are older people.

Maybe those "in the middle", with a full-time job and young children, find it harder to make time.

I talked with an active trade union woman at work the other day, and she said that she doesn't volunteer but donates money to an organisation in Mannheim. Some volunteers are unemployed and need money if only for bus fares.

The volunteering is mostly through existing organisations but new groups have formed as well. There are least four new groups in Mannheim: Mannheim sagt ja! (Mannheim says yes); Flüchtlinge willkommen (refugees welcome); Save Me Mannheim; Nice to meet you.

Mannheim and Heidelberg have refugees coming to live here, but also serve as first stopping points: the large now-empty former US military facilities here, now state-owned, are used to house refugees temporarily.

When Germany temporarily closed its borders, really, I think, the organisations and the volunteers and administrations breathed a sigh of relief.

Not because they thought we had "had enough" refugees, but because they'd have a chance to catch up and make sure that refugees are treated well (medical treatment, psychological support, language-teaching, housing etc.)

Municipal administrations sometimes feel overwhelmed because they have been largely left to themselves to deal with it all so far, though the federal government is due to release funds.

Bavaria's right-wing minister of the interior talks of dividing refugees into “good” and “bad” ones. The “bad” ones are from Albania or Kosova, for example.

On the whole even right wing politicians have been very careful in their expressions.

They tend to argue for a Europe-wide solution. That's all right, but it doesn’t much help the people on the road right now. We know how long decisions on a European level can take.

An effort is being made by the media to present “good practice” of businesses taking on refugees for training programs and showing how willing some are to learn. I am sure that there is a positive psychological result due to these arguments in the back of people’s minds. Can a Syrian doctor be a doctor here? If you are not convinced of basic human rights, all this is very fragile and emotions and thoughts can change very quickly.

Of course, even now you hear comments like “it's a bit too much” and I get the feeling that some people don’t even want to think about the implications and challenges ahead.

In a recent opinion poll, 74% of the population said that they were more or less satisfied with the government's refugee policy. Over half said that they personally would be willing to help refugees.

People with more education are more pro-refugee than people with less, and leftish voters more than right-wing voters.

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