Is Cash Better Than Food Vouchers for Syrian Refugees?August 5, 2017 | Markus Schwarzer

Queues of refugees in BerlinDuring a recent visit to Berlin, Germany, I came face to face with the sheer size of the refugee situation. Over the last two years, more than 1 million people entered Germany as refugees. 

People are on the move. Fleeing from their homelands from persecution, violence and poverty.
In the hope of a better life, they also come to Germany.

Many people who are now coming to Germany have a legitimate claim to political asylum. They are also likely to remain in the long term in Germany. Fast solutions for the conflicts are not in sight. This is especially true for people from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea.

Millions seek Asylum

Make up of Asylum Seekers_2016In 2016, almost 500k sought asylum. The majority of countries with vastly different cultural values. 

At the turn of 2015/16 more than 1,000 people a day, arrived in Berlin. This is now down to 20-30 per day.

Nowadays, the ultra long queues outside the National Office of Health and Social Affairs in Berlin-Moabit are a thing of the past.
Nevertheless, there are still significant numbers of 
refugees lining up and hope for asylum.

Administrative Challenges

This increasingly challenges the local and federal government authorities. Often pushed to capacity limits.
Again and again, employees complain about overloading.

The language and cultural barriers are significant. The two biggest hurdles for successful integration.

Refugees_level of educationAccess to Labour Market

In addition, most refugees are poorly educated in order to compete on equal terms in the German labour market. Close to 2/3rd have no high school or uni education. 

The recognition of qualification often takes a long time or not at all. Gaining access to records in war-torn and corrupt countries tends to be very difficult.

Huge Costs

Whether it is 17 billion Euros, 20 or even 23, does not really matter. In any case, It’s a huge amount spent in 2016 for the reception, housing and care of refugees.

A large number of measures are available for immigrants in the areas of language teaching, education, and work.

German Language

To learn the German language is the first step into integration. This begins with language support measures:

  • in daycare centers such as the “Language Kitas” program are supported by the Federal Government over the program period from 2016 to 2019 with up to Euros 100 million annually.
  • This is followed by school-based language support in German, which is aimed at children whose knowledge of German is not sufficient. The formats vary according to the age of the children.

Integration programs

The state sponsored integration programs are at the core of the integration measures for adult immigrants.

In addition to the general integration programs (600 hours of language course, 100 hours of orientation course), there are additional programs with the focus on literacy, women, parents, young people and young adults.

attendance integration programRoughly 340,00 people attended the Integration Programs in 2016 (2015: 180,000). Syrian refugees making up the largest contingent.

The integration of refugees will become an important social and political task in the coming years in Germany. Central to this is the integration into the labor market, which enables people to live independently.

Integration Coaching

German authorities are providing funding for more ‘Integration Coaches’. The training program for integration coaches is aimed at professionals who are active in the areas of career preparation, career counselling, and job placement for refugees and migrants.

Integration at the Coal Face

Many refugees are not only physically but also mentally exhausted. It is often the memories of experiences or the current circumstances when everything is unfamiliar. A view of the future is difficult and perhaps part of the family is not there. But regardless of this, many refugees can already be helped with simple, fast-acting methods. 

The introduction of an active policy of integration in Germany was carried out very late. Failures in early phases of life are reflected:

  • in a lower level of education,
  • which in turn reduces chances on the labor market.

The shortcomings in the integration are therefore difficult and can only be corrected with great effort.

One particular poor example that Germany does not wish to replicate is France. France failed majorly in integrating its North African citizens and migrants. 

The Challenge

The integration of migrants in Germany poses major challenges. The Germans as people who are hosts, helpers, supporters, sometimes also critics. The authorities, the state and, of course, the migrants themselves, who have to find their way first. This will take time. And Patience. Lots of it.

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