Rich with tradition, culture and history, Germany is a country that has risen from the ashes and has been born anew. She cannot escape her past but she can dictate her future and rebrand as a modern refugee haven.
The incredible influx of displaced people into Germany came as a result of civil wars, economic crises and the breakdown of political order in countries such as Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan; desperate and dire situations to which Germany can relate. Since the fall of the Wall, Germany has received 30 percent of all asylum applications and in 2015 she opened her doors to 1.1 million refugees, resulting in the largest population increase in more than twenty years. Germany’s generosity amounted to more than 2 billion euros at a donor conference held in humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees, and came with the promise that individuals would be reunited with their family members in Germany. The refugee crisis is a complex issue with no quick fix, but these actions have undoubtedly lubricated the situation for many neighbouring EU countries, as well as the hundreds of thousands of people who no longer have to fear for their lives.
With Germany’s new image come a set of new values, new principals and new a sense of duty. She has made a gallant effort to alleviate the suffering of more than a million people and make a difference. But it’s not enough.
Although the task has been met with great enthusiasm and endeavour, the reality is that these asylum seekers still have little prospects. They are faced with new challenges that no longer take the form of famine, war or strife but rather unemployment, isolation and homelessness. About 60 percent of refugees spend around 6 months in collective accommodation before they are allocated a home to call their own and can start their lives afresh. A Financial Times analysis shows that these refugees are disproportionately placed in areas of high unemployment and worse job prospects, which is a breeding ground for social tension between German citizens and the new arrivals, hindering integration.
Nonetheless, this does not measure up to the worlds the refugees left behind. Germany can only do so much; when housing demands rise quicker than needs can be accommodated, prioritising the neediest and paying off the others to return to their country seems like a reasonable solution. More than 20 billion euros have already been plunged into the cause and a difference has been made in the lives of those who take pride in Germany’s new persona. A promising and more tolerant future has been dictated in response to a notorious past. But acceptance is key in today’s reality. Accepting the influence that 1.1 million could have on the traditions, culture and history of the country and acknowledging the approaching diversity of the population is priceless and far more significant than tolerance alone.