Initiatives to help refugees in Germany going strong despite decline

A “hard core” of initiatives aimed at welcoming refugees remains at work almost five years after the major influx across Germany’s southern borders in the summer of 2015, a Berlin-based institute said on Tuesday.

A total of 137 “welcoming initiatives for asylum-seekers” were surveyed by the Institute for Democratic Development and Social Integration (Desi) under a commission from the Federal Association for Housing and Urban Development (vhw).

Almost half – 48 per cent – of the initiatives surveyed saw their situation as stable, with 13 per cent growing and 4 per cent growing rapidly.

“We have ascertained that a stable core remains,” said Sebastian Beck, who led the study on behalf of the vhw.

Almost 40 per cent of the initiatives surveyed were set up in 2015, the year that Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the borders to refugees fleeing conflict zones largely in the Middle East and North Africa.

Many of the initiatives, however, reported a decline in the number of people willing to work voluntarily, while at the same time the number of new arrivals has declined significantly.

Official bodies have also taken over some of the work.

Beck also noted a change in the nature of the work. Some volunteers had made friends with refugees and were continuing to help them and their families without this being seen as voluntary work any longer, he said.

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