Conveying a realistic image of Germany

Human traffickers spread false claims about the living conditions and chances of assimilation in Germany and play down the risks of the journey to get there. With campaigns like “Rumours About Germany”, the Federal Government aims to counter the misconceptions.

dpa/Sumy Sadurni - Refugees

The rumours sound very tempting: “Anyone coming to Germany as a refugee is entitled to a house” is one of them. “The Federal Government offers all immigrants a welcome payment and a job”, goes another. Yet as intriguing as these rumours sound, they are equally false. “Traffickers deliberately spread these claims, on the basis of which people are willing to undertake dangerous journeys and pay a lot of money to trafficking networks to do so”, explains the Officer for Refugees and Migration at the Federal Foreign Office, Beate Grzeski. Many people from crisis countries thus have false preconceptions about the conditions for immigration to Europe, their chances of assimilation and living conditions in Germany.

Hence the Federal Government is trying to counter the claims with campaigns like “Rumours About Germany”. The campaign began in Afghanistan, and now the Federal Government is also targeting people in Africa. “We want to use this to convey a realistic image of the actual living conditions in Germany and the chances of assimilation. At the same time, we are showing our comprehensive commitment to the prospects of remaining in situ”, says Beate Grzeski. This involves, on the one hand, clarification about the right to asylum. A frequent claim is that every refugee automatically gets German citizenship on arrival. The risks of the journey are also highlighted in the campaign and false information corrected. One example is the traffickers’ claim that the Sahara takes one day to cross. “We want to prevent people who are undoubtedly in a difficult situation from making a decision to leave their homeland under false pretexts and embarking on the journey to Europe under the most adverse conditions”, says Beate Grzeski. “It’s therefore very important that people compare these preconceptions with the first-hand facts and that they are able to get information about possibilities for legal migration.”

Addressing more than the positive aspects

Journalists in Africa play an important role in conveying a realistic image of the living conditions and chances of assimilation in Europe. Participants gathered to exchange ideas at a conference in the Kenyan capital Nairobi in November 2016. “Amongst other things, the conference was about raising awareness among journalists for balanced reporting and covering more than just the positive aspects”, says Veye Tatah, Editor-in-Chief of Africa Positive magazine, which helped organize the conference. “People should know whether it is really worth leaving their home country”, she says. Following on from the conference, which was funded by the Federal Foreign Office, now many of the participants are working on articles and radio programmes covering the topic of flight and migration.

Migration centres along refugee routes

Filmmaker Nadège Naré who was born in Burkina Faso is using another method to get people talking about migration. She spent a week travelling to villages in Burkina Faso with her Ciné Bus. There, with financial support from the German Federal Foreign Office, she screened dramas and documentaries about the themes of migration and inner peace and held discussions with the villagers.

Germany is also supporting a new initiative by the EU and the International Organization for Migration. The initiative aims to make refugee routes safer and to help people return to their homelands. On the one hand, migration centres are planned along the main refugee routes to provide refugees with information and support. Here they can get not only food but also medical and psychosocial assistance. They can also get access to information about the destination countries and topics like reintegration locally. The centres should also help refugees as they search for relatives. Germany aims to contribute 48 million euros to the programmes.