Their talks focused on the situation of refugees and migrants in Libya and Syria and on German support for UNHCR. Maas announced that Germany will provide 250 million euros in 2018 alone for UNHCR regional programmes, of which 140 million euros will be allocated to Syria and its neighbouring countries.
At the end of 2017, UNHCR reported that there were 68.5 million forcibly displaced persons in the world, the highest number since the end of the Second World War and around three million more than the previous year. The conflicts and humanitarian crises in Syria and its neighbouring countries, in parts of Africa and in Myanmar and eastern Ukraine are still ongoing. As a result, the need for humanitarian assistance is increasing. UNHCR requires some 7.5 billion dollars in funding in 2018. Germany contributed 477 million dollars to the agency’s work in 2017 and was thus its second-largest donor. Germany is continuing to provide a high level of financial support this year. However, Germany is not only an important partner for UNHCR as regards funding, but also because it takes in the sixth highest number of refugees worldwide.
Humanitarian crisis in and around Syria
The situation in Syria has hardly improved in recent years. It remains one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time, with 13.1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, of whom 1.5 million people are in areas that are difficult to reach, with limited humanitarian access. The crisis in Syria is also a refugee crisis. Its neighbouring countries, above all Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, continue to need support in looking after over five million Syrian refugees. Furthermore, over a million people have been internally displaced in Syria since the start of the year alone, in many cases not for the first time.
The conflict, which broke out in 2011, is now in its eigth year. It is thus all the more important not to forget the crisis and not to leave the people in Syria alone. For this reason, Germany provides support to UNHCR’s work in Syria and its neighbouring countries. For 2018 alone, the Federal Foreign Office has pledged an initial 140 million euros to UNHCR. Among other things, this funding is used to promote the protection of children and to provide basic healthcare to refugees and internally displaced persons. In addition, the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative, a scholarship programme funded by Germany via UNHCR, enables refugees to study at universities and colleges in their host country.
Situation of refugees and migrants in Libya
The humanitarian situation also remains bad in Libya. Around a million people currently require humanitarian aid. Several refugee and migration routes run through the country, and political instability is making humanitarian work even more difficult. The situation of refugees and migrants in “detention centres” is particularly perilous. Germany seeks to foster the humane treatment of refugees and migrants and to strengthen state structures in Libya in order to improve the protection and care of refugees and migrants. Germany works closely with UNHCR, with the aim of alleviating people’s suffering, ensuring their protection and finding long term solutions.
Examples of UNHCR measures in Libya which Germany is currently supporting with funding of five million euros include the provision of emergency accommodation and psychosocial care. Thanks to the emergency evacuation mechanism, UNHCR has already been able to evacuate over 1800 refugees from Libya to safe third countries, such as the Niger. Germany has said it will take in 300 of these refugees.