Flight and migration are shaping the 21st Century. The boundaries between flight and migration are blurred, the reasons for both are varied. Climate change that destroys the home of whole populations, environmental pollution, natural disasters, violent conflicts, as well as the widening gap between the winners and losers of globalization are all factors. Thus, the rigid differentiation between flight and migration does not meet the challenges of today's already complex problem areas. Relatedly, it is similarly problematic to divide migrants into war, economic, poverty or environmental refugees.
Poor countries accept the most refugees
While the number of international migrants is steadily rising, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons has virtually exploded in the last few years. So far, Europe is neither the primary goal for these people, nor does it bear the brunt or accept the majority of them. However, for a long time, European and German politicians and societies have turned a blind eye to the extent of worldwide flight and migration.
There are no short-term solutions
Instead of finding long-term solutions, European politics is still largely focussed on preventing migration, rather than on shaping it. Policies that promise quick solutions are often not sustainable. The focus must therefore be shifted to the central conflict causes and the reasons for which people leave their homes.
Europe must assume its share of responsibility
In order to tackle the causes of flight and forced migration, an understanding of Europe's and Germany's historical, political and economic share of responsibility is crucial. From trade agreement formulations to transnational companies' conduct, over climate, agricultural, and commodities policy, as well as arms export: Europe must assume its responsibility. It must begin treating flight and migration as a global phenomenon that isn't just relevant across the external EU borders.
In July 2016, the FES launched the event series "Causes of Flight Made in Europe?", which aims at expanding the understanding of causes of flight in general. In addition, this event series wants to place a stronger focus on Germany's and Europe's historical, political and economical responsibility for reducing the causes of forced migration. For instance, the driving factors of forced migration in the following industries and complexes need to be discussed: The drafting of trade agreements and the restriction of states' regulatory powers and scopes of action, as well as the export strategies of, for instance, poultry producers, the conduct of transnational corporations, CO2 emissions, arms exports, trade, tax, fisheries, agrarian, raw materials and climate policy. Precisely this is also the point of departure of the FES publication Causes of Flight »Made in Europe«, in which the topic is examined from a number of perspectives.
Migration has always been a part of human history; it is, in fact, the norm.
Most refugees do not want to come to Germany; they stay in their home countries or flee to other developing countries. Therefore, the FES wants to supplement the debate with perspectives from the Global South and further draw comparisons with other states with regard to migration, asylum and integration. To this end, we are producing videos on the ground that can be watched online and used in political education programs. Further, a moving exhibition for educational and cultural institutions is planned.
Furthermore, we are convinced that we all too often speak of "them", instead of speaking with the people who have reached Germany in the last year themselves. Because of this, we often develop prejudices that seldom reflect reality. The FES aims at breaking down these prejudices by initiating encounters between refugees and interested members of the public through fireside chats and movie nights. The people that fled to Germany have fates and feelings regarding their flight. Understanding their stories might make it easier for us to improve their accommodation and integration.