‘People are leaving home because they see no prospects for themselves and their children. It’s an extremely difficult decision,’ says Arno Tomowski, Migration and Refugee Programme Coordinator at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The reasons why people set out on the journey – whether forcibly or voluntarily – are always complex and often overlap.
Often, armed conflict, war and persecution make it impossible for people to stay in their own homes. Worldwide, more than 280 million people are on the move according to the United Nations. Many of them set out voluntarily in search of a better life, but around 65 million people are displaced – some of them within their own country. On behalf of the German Government, GIZ provided support for around four and a half million refugees and displaced persons worldwide between 2010 and 2015.
‘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. Many of the measures aim to benefit host communities – or even entire regions – as well. For example, by the end of 2016, the ‘cash for work’ programme commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) had reached 57,000 people in Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. In Northern Iraq, refugees and local communities have built sports facilities, playgrounds and roads, thus generating an income for themselves, their families and households – and helping to improve the infrastructure in camps and host communities at the same time.
Building the host regions’ capacities in the longer term as well is another of GIZ’s goals. Take Jordan: according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), one person in seven in this extremely water-poor country is a refugee. In Jordan, there are 87 refugees per 1,000
inhabitants – the second highest number in the world. Only Turkey hosts more refugees as a proportion of its population.
Hosting large numbers of refugees has increased pressure on already scarce water resources. Under a programme commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), so far around 300 Syrians and Jordanians have trained as plumbers. They now have the skills they need to ensure that the precious water does not trickle away into the ground. The training improves the plumbers’ career prospects and enables everyone to work together to make sparing use of this vital resource.
‘Despite all the challenges, migration offers great opportunities,’ says Arno Tomowski. For example, returnees – particularly former labour migrants – have valuable knowledge that they can share with their countries of origin, thus contributing to development. For more than 20 years, GIZ has been supporting the integration of former migrants and refugees returning to their home countries after a long absence.
Last update: February 2017