German Development Minister Gerd Müller has announced a 50 million euro ($68 million) increase in refugee aid. The move comes in the wake of what the minister called “dramatic” developments in Iraq and Syria.
With the Middle East facing an immense refugee crisis, Development Minister Gerd Müller told Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper that he intends to introduce the extra funds in the coming week.
He added that Germany had allocated 200 million euros to refugee aid over the past two years. “The crucial thing is that we act quickly and tangibly,” he warned. “We should re-allocate resources, and invest an extra billion euros from the EU in peace and development.”
Müller added that it was time for the European Union to offer more, and “bundle its tasks and name an EU refugee commissioner.” This should, he argued, become a priority for Europe’s development work.
The announcement comes two days after World Refugee Day, when the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR published an alarming “Global Trends” report. The document reveals that in the past six months alone, more than 51 million people worldwide had been forced from their homes as a result of conflict, persecution, violence or human rights violations.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres put the vast numbers down to the escalating conflicts around the world – particularly in Syria, which has displaced over nine million people alone – 2.8 million of them outside the country.
“We are not facing an increasing trend, we are really facing a quantum leap, an enormous increase of forced displacement in our world,” said Guterres.
Müller’s announcement comes in the face of continued criticism of Germany’s policy on Syria. The largest economy in Europe has only pledged to take in 9,600 Syrian refugees. By comparison, Syria’s neighbor Lebanon – a country with a population of 4.4 million – has been forced to take in over a million.
bk/jlw (Reuters, AFP)