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Germany’s refugee policy: ‘Borders on cynicism’

Justice & Home Affairs

Germany’s refugee policy: ‘Borders on cynicism’

A Saudi infantryman, in Yemen, with a German designed G-36 assault rifle. The weapon is manufactured in Saudi Arabia under license from Heckler and Koch.


Arms exports to Saudi Arabia, the return of refugees to Afghanistan and the deal with Turkey: Germany’s peace institutes have come out firing against many of Germany’s more controversial policies. EurActiv’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

The five leading peace institutes in Germany have made wide-ranging criticisms of Berlin’s foreign and security policies.

In a new report, the organisations criticised Germany’s cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular, because of their links to the funding of terrorism and the propagation of fundamentalism.

“The fact that Germany arms countries like Saudi Arabia is scandalous,” said Margret Johannsen from Hamburg University’s Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy.

German arms exports to the Islamic kingdom have indeed been limited under the current German government, a fact acknowledged by Max Mutschler from Bonn’s International Centre for Conversion, but Berlin has continued to supply parts for combat aircraft that have been used by Riyadh in its questionable operations in Yemen.

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The researchers also condemned the continuing supply of weapons to the military forces of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Peshmerga. German help in this area has prolonged the conflict in Iraq and the weapons have found their way across a large area of the region.

In most cases, military intervention has led to the total failure of the state in question and has not been an effective way of guaranteeing peace.

Examples include the state-of-play in countries like Iraq and Libya following the removal of its leaders, Saddam Hussein and Muammar al Gaddafi.

German involvement in the war against the so-called Islamic State is also not justified under international law.

Instead of military intervention by one or more countries, the so-called coalition of the willing, there are calls for more robust UN operations to be carried out.

Germany’s refugee policy was also denounced by the report. “The federal government’s plan to send refugees back to Afghanistan borders on cynicism,” said Johannsen.

Large parts of the country are today controlled by the Taliban. The refugee agreement with Turkey has also been labelled as organised people-trafficking.

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The “outsourcing” of the problem cannot be the solution. Instead, the EU is encouraged to regain its sense of solidarity. Johannsen added that “the refugee crisis is not actually that per se, it is a political crisis”.

Given the challenges posed by integrating refugees, the researcher called for the establishment of a migration and integration ministry, like what has been done in France, rather than spending political capital on bolstering immigration laws.

“The issue is going to remain on the radar for decades to come,” she added.

In the short-term, social programmes should be set up that will keep young, unemployed people out of the arms of Islamists.