On Thursday, September 10, 2015 The German Branch of IFOR sent the following appeal in response to the refugee situation confronting Germany and other European countries to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German President Joachim Gauck, the group chairmen of the Bundestag as well as the prime ministers of the federal states and the Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration:
Appeal of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, German Branch
In view of the forthcoming winter the race to ensure that people have winterized accommodation and general care (food, clothing, medical care) should be a top priority. This is all the more urgent, as thousands of children are among those fleeing violence.
The risk that continues to drown thousands of people in the Mediterranean can only be reduced if fugitives are guaranteed safe means of travel. To this we suggest two alternatives:
a. Allow the application for asylum in the European embassies of countries of origin or the countries of transit of refugees
b. Create free access into Europe, and provide a right of residency that would stop the criminal smuggling, prevent deaths in transit and render the further military actions unnecessary.
It is important to provide relief to countries such as Pakistan, Lebanon and Turkey, who bear the brunt of the influx of refugees. Studies show that most people try to stay within close reach of their home countries. If they cannot find sufficient support and care there, they will move on.
In negotiations among European countries to balance and redistribute refugees, we believe that in addition to a countries population and economic power, that one must also consider the role that European countries play in the arms industry, which can be seen as bearing responsibility for the violence and instability in the countries of origins of the refugees. Germany is the third largest arms export in the world. Countries such as Germany who play a large role in the Global Arms trade should therefore bare a more significant burden in care for the refugees. This is similar to the “Polluter Pays Principle” in EU Environmental Regulations.
There are other causes of the crisis, which must be addressed in the context of solutions to the current refugee situation: the exploitation of the poor by the rich countries, unfair trade conditions that support inhumane regimes, and the catastrophic impact of climate change. These additional causes may, inter alia, be addressed by fair prices and fair trade agreements, drastic measures to prevent greater catastrophes as a result of climate change, termination of arms exports, and an active peace policy. To avoid these consequences, we have to change our way of life, so that others can survive.
Fear and military-supported security thinking have thus far dominated the policy-making discussions in Germany. Refugees seek shelter - they are not dangerous. We would like to encourage all politicians to leave this anxious and security obsessed way of thinking and to approach the challenge from logic of peace. The current challenges cannot be mitigated if we continue to rely on an increasingly militarized response and a Refugee Policy that seeks to meet refugees with the violent weapons of war.
(Text Translated from German by the IFOR International Secretariat) The original version can be found on IFOR Germany's website.