Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. Secretary-General, has told members that they must do more to tackle the current world refugee crisis, the worst since the Second World War.
Speaking at a meeting of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Geneva, he said, “Never before in United Nations history have we had so many refugees, displaced people and asylum seekers. Never before has the United Nations been asked to reach so many with emergency food assistance and other life-saving support.”
More than 50 million men, women and children are fleeing from violence and persecution in the world today, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The crises in Iraq, Syria and North and Central Africa are driving up the numbers.
“This requires greater resources and more political leadership. It also requires unprecedented cooperation by the international community,” Mr. Ban said.
“Never before in United Nations history have we had so many refugees, displaced people and asylum seekers.”
Most displaced persons seek refuge or asylum in the European Union, Turkey or the United States. In the 28 E.U. countries alone, 216,300 people sought asylum in the first six months of 2014, an increase of 23 percent over the same period last year. The largest number of asylum applications – 65,700, or almost a third of the E.U. total – was filed in Germany.
Germany is unlikely to lose its position as the top destination for asylum seekers anytime soon. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière expects 200,000 asylum seekers in both 2014 and 2015, compared to 130,000 last year.
The country’s 16 states spent a combined €1.52 billion ($1.92 billion) last year to support the social welfare of asylum seekers. That amount won’t be nearly enough in the future.
But the states can expect drastic increases in spending on asylum seekers in the future. The governing body of the city-state of Berlin, the Senate, has earmarked a sum in the double-digit millions to create living space for 2,000 people in temporary container housing. The German capital is expecting 11,500 new refugees this year. Other cities and towns are also adjusting to spiraling costs. Düsseldorf, for example, is housing close to 500 displaced persons in hotels, at a monthly cost of €1,150 per person.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière expects 200,000 asylum seekers in both 2014 and 2015, compared to 130,000 last year.
While human traffickers who bring people across the Mediterranean to Europe earn up to €500,000 per crossing, the flood of refugees into Germany is creating an excessive burden. Private security firms are often hired to manage the new arrivals. But accounts of refugee abuse in Burbach, a town in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, show that their personnel are not necessarily suitable for the task.
David Miliband, chief executive of the International Rescue Committee and the former foreign secretary of the U.K., has called upon Europeans not just to react, but instead to create a “Marshall Plan for the Middle East.” According to Mr. Miliband, Jordan and Lebanon bear the brunt of the crisis and require €7 billion each to fund their refugee programs. This is as much as the European Union has earmarked for refugee policy until 2020.
Nicole Bastian is the foreign news coordinator at Handelsblatt, Till Hoppe is a foreign policy correspondent in Berlin and Moritz Koch is Handelsblatt’s Washington correspondent. To contact the authors: Bastian@handelsblatt.com, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org