Ecumenical News International

Diakonie Emergency Aid calls for a new refugee policy

July 23, 2015

Stuttgart (epd). Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, president of the Protestant relief agency Diakonie Emergency Aid, has called for a rethink in refugee policy. It must create legal routes to Europe and tackle the root causes for people fleeing their countries of origin, she said in Stuttgart. Blocking the maritime route to Europe would only lead to refugees taking the terrestrial route via the Balkan countries, where poor countries were already overwhelmed by the large number of refugees in transit.

Füllkrug-Weitzel strongly criticised the refugee discussion in Germany. "Rightwing extremist rowdies are being allowed to determine the reporting and the tone of public debate," she asserted. And yet nine out of ten refugees and displaced persons worldwide had not come to the industrialized nations at all: they had been received by developing countries, 25 percent of them even in the very poorest countries. In Germany, too, the solidarity in the population was "far greater than the racist arson attacks of misguided minorities".

Debate about 'economic refugees' misses the point

The discussion about 'economic refugees' missed the point, Füllkrug-Weitzel declared. The people who had been turned into refugees by western economic policies, along with western-driven climate change and weapons exports, also had economic reasons for fleeing. The policies of industrialized nations were depriving many people of a livelihood, she added. Moreover, responsibility for conflict areas started years before a crisis broke out and most violent conflicts were foreseeable, e.g. the offensive of the "Islamic State".

Diakonie Emergency Aid was presenting its annual financial statement in Stuttgart. In 2014 it raised EUR 17.9 million in donations, a drop compared to EUR 36.8 million in 2013. Martin Kessler, director of the organization, ascribed this to the particularly high level of donations in 2013 due to the flood in Germany and a typhoon in the Philippines. Of the 16 German states, the one generating the most donations last year - EUR 2.8 million - was Württemberg.

172 projects in 40 countries

Kessler announced that income from public funds in 2014 rose from EUR 14.5 to 15.7 million, a record high in the history of Diakonie Emergency Aid. According to its own figures, the organization last year supported 172 projects in 40 countries. That also included regions that had disappeared from the headlines, such as the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo or Southern Sudan.

Füllkrug-Weitzel rejected a policy of special assistance to Christians fleeing from Islamic countries. As a humanitarian relief agency, the organization was committed to freedom from discrimination. In many countries that was the precondition for being able to work there at all. In addition, in the countries from which Christians had to flee they were not the only minorities falling victim to violence.




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