Causes of Displacement

A World in Motion

(Forced) displacement and migration are shaping the 21st century. The boundaries between displacement and migration are blurred, the reasons for both are varied: climate change that destroys the livelihoods of whole populations, environmental pollution, natural disasters, violent conflicts, as well as the widening gap between winners and losers of globalization. The notion to clearly separate between displacement and migration does not adequately reflect the complexity of the challenges. Therefore, it is similarly problematic trying to divide migrants and label them based on the cause of migration - war, economic reasons, poverty or environmental disasters. 

Poor countries take in the highest number of refugees 

While the number of international migrants is steadily rising, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons has increased exponentially in the last few years. So far, Europe is neither the primary destination for migrants, nor does it bear the brunt of taking them in. However, for a long time, the public in Europe and Germany has for the most part turned a blind eye to the magnitude of human mobility. 

There are no short-term solutions 

Instead of finding long-term solutions, European politics is still largely focused on preventing migration, rather than shaping it. Policies that promise quick solutions are often not sustainable. The focus must therefore shift to the central conflict causes and the reasons for why people leave their homes. 

Europe must assume its share of responsibility 

In order to tackle the causes of displacement and forced migration, an understanding of Europe's and in particular Germany's historical, political and economic share of responsibility is crucial. Trade agreements, the conduct of transnational companies as well as climate, agricultural, and commodity policies, and arms exports: Europe must assume stewardship. It must begin treating displacement and migration as a global phenomenon that is relevant across EU borders.

Event Series and Formats

Causes of Flight "Made in Europe"

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.

Understanding migration historically and geographically

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.

Meeting through Stories

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 displacement. Understanding their stories might make it easier for us to improve their accommodation and integration.


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