Refugees and migration

There are more refugees and displaced persons today than at any time since the Second World War. And many more people are on the move in search of a better future elsewhere. Around the world, GIZ is working to address the challenges posed by refugee movements and migration and to offer people long-term prospects for the future.

‘People are leaving home because they see no prospects for themselves and their children. It’s an extremely difficult decision,’ says Arno Tomowski, who coordinates work on migration and refugees at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The reasons why people leave – whether forcibly or voluntarily – are always complex and often overlap.

‘A key focus of our work at GIZ is to offer prospects for the future at the local level and thus give people an incentive to stay,’ Arno Tomowski explains. For example, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), sustainable agricultural techniques were introduced in Ethiopia in order to increase food security. Almost a million people there are now benefiting from the increased yields. And in Afghanistan, the aim is to establish more schools and vocational colleges to build people’s skills, offering them job prospects and enabling them to earn a living in their own country.

But often, armed conflict, war and persecution make it impossible for people to stay in their own homes. In 2015, around 65 million of the world’s people were displaced. On behalf of the German Government, GIZ has provided support for six million refugees around the world in the last 10 years alone. In doing so, it has always established structures that also benefit many other people across entire regions. In northern Iraq, for example, GIZ has set up schools, health centres and community centres in a refugee camp and in six camps for displaced persons on behalf of BMZ, in cooperation with Welthungerhilfe and UNICEF. By the end of 2015, more than 200,000 people – both in the camps themselves and in neighbouring communities – had gained access to improved health, education and social infrastructure. 

Preventing conflict – utilising opportunities

Building the host regions’ capacities is one of the aims of GIZ’s work in the Kingdom of Jordan as well. The Jordanian Government estimates that at present, one person in five living in this extremely water-poor country is a refugee from neighbouring Syria. So on behalf of BMZ, GIZ launched a training programme for plumbers from both countries in Jordan. The plumbers are working to ensure that this scarce resource does not simply trickle away into the ground. As skilled workers, they have better job prospects and are all cooperating to improve the management of this precious resource. Similar programmes are now being developed for other professions, too.

Since 2015, GIZ has also been supporting communities and refugees along the Balkan migration route. On behalf of BMZ, GIZ is providing advice to municipalities whose infrastructure is stretched to the limit due to the influx of large numbers of people, and has deployed mobile teams of nurses, legal advisors and psychologists to provide care for the waiting refugees.

‘Despite all the challenges, migration also offers great opportunities,’ says Arno Tomowski. For examples, returnees – especially former labour migrants – have valuable knowledge and expertise that they can share with their countries of origin, thus promoting development. For more than 20 years, GIZ has assisted former refugees and migrants to reintegrate into their home countries after a long absence.

Read the ‘Background’ pages to find out more about priorities and project examples.