In 2015 4477.000 people have submitted an application for asylum in Germany. This number is higher than the last two years put together (329,857). Nevertheless, experts predict a huge increase of refugees for the next few years. Mostly, the asylum seekers are refugees from Syria (ca. 159.000), Albania (ca. 54.000), Kosovo (ca. 33.000) and Afghanistan (31.000). They flee from war, terror and hunger, from situations most people in the Western world cannot even imagine. As long as the situation in their home countries does not change, more and more people will try to come to the allegedly safe harbor of rich Europe.
The first reactions in Germany, which took in most of the refugees, were mostly positive. Pictures of Germans standing at the main station in Munich with teddy bears, sweets and all variations of food went around the world.
However, within the last few months the protests against the German asylum policy got louder and louder. Everyone in Germany has seen the pictures of the demonstrations in Dresden, where the Pegida-movement started. The number of attacks on asylum camps has increased during the year 2015 and already reached 580. These attacks range from screaming nationalistic paroles to putting the camps on fire. It is important to take the fears and feelings of the people demonstrating in Dresden seriously. Nevertheless, it is reprehensible that people from foreign states have to feel insecure or are scared to go out in a country with a historical background like the one of Germany. Even though putting out a travel warning for East-Germany, like the Canadian Government did, might be a little exaggerated, it should give the average person quite something to think about.
“There has to be a limit!” You can hear these words every time you talk to an opponent of the German refugee policy. There should be a limit on how many refugees Germany can take in, is what they say. Here are some exact numbers: Germany has a population of around 82 million people, that means 220 people per km². If 60 million war refugees were to come to Germany now, this number would rise to 360 per km². That is nearly the same population density as in Israel (370), Indian (370), the Netherlands (400), and Belgium (350). In contrast, this number would be desirable for Bangladesh, where there are 1,070 people per km². So from this point of view, it would be possible for Germany to take them all in.
The problem consists mainly in the fact that there is also an emotional perspective. People from the popular countries of destination, like Germany, Austria or the United Kingdom, are afraid of alienation and lack of security. Like most of the time, as long as people do not have to encounter "the problem" they do not care. At which point do they come in contact with the refugees? At which point do people face a restriction of their own capabilities? When they have to wait 20 minutes longer for the train because a group of refugees is blocking the way? Or when they cannot use the sports area, which is used as an asylum camp? When you get an answer to these questions, please take that in and then consider the situation most of the refugees are in and what they experienced during the last months.
Apparently, another problem is that a lot of the refugees reject or do not know the German values, values such as gender equality, no discrimination against homosexuals and freedom of speech. The big gap between German values and Muslim culture is a huge problem. But isn't that a process? It takes time, patience, and a lot of effort, both by the Germans and by the refugees. It takes time for them to get to know the German culture and language. How can we expect them to change within a year or a few months, when it took us years to get where we are today? Yet, most of the refugees accept the German culture quite fast. They can differentiate between their culture/religion and the German one. They are more critical with regard to their religion than people who still live in their home countries. Again, integration takes time and effort. If asylum camps are just built in difficult neighbourhoods how should the asylum seekers get to know the "normal" German way? They have to be integrated into the well-educated, wealthy population where the schools and kindergartens are small and well organized. Then they could actually raise children who think of becoming lawyers or doctors.
Furthermore, many people think refugees take our jobs and waste our money. The fear of losing money to refugees is a big problem in our society. However, just 0.9% of the refugees are currently employed. The law allows asylum seekers to enter into employment three months after receiving asylum. The average duration for the asylum seeking process is six months, so refugees are allowed to work in Germany nine months after their arrival. Especially the young generation of refugees could be a positive influence for the German social system due to the fact that the birth-rate is sinking every year and the demographic change continues. The public pension system, however, is built on the younger generation in the form of an intergenerational contract. So if there are not enough young tax-paying people the social system would not work anymore.
At the moment, the situation in the Arabic world leaves us no other choice but to deal with the people coming into the country, even if this is not going to be as easy as we would like it to be. That is why we have to keep in mind that refugees are humans like us and that Germany, as one of the richest countries in the world, has to fulfil its obligation to guarantee their safety, at least here in Europe. The influence of diverse cultures could make Germany richer in culture and experience, so this crisis is a chance for this country and its people.