German Red Cross shifts migration response focus to social inclusion

Published: 17 May 2016 16:05 CET

By Andreea Anca, IFRC and Dieter Schuetz, German Red Cross


Swimming lessons, a second-hand bike service, language classes and support with asylum claims are part of the German Red Cross’s pledge to support the social inclusion of migrants, as its focus moves from emergency response to longer term programmes.


Germany has been one of the main destination countries for people heading into Europe through the Western Balkan route and across the Mediterranean. More than one million had arrived in the country by the end of 2015. "We were on the frontline, providing emergency support in arrival centres,” Stefan Osche, Head of the German Red Cross Task Force for Refugee Camps.


The Red Cross is running more than 490 emergency accommodation centers across the country hosting more than 141,000 people. Since last year, an estimated 25,000 volunteers and staff have been working on the migration crisis in Germany. 


The National Society is also currently playing an active part in language and integration sessions, employment training, family tracing services, medical care and psychosocial support for people suffering from stress and trauma.


“While we continue to provide emergency support, we are also focusing on community programmes aimed at helping people settle into life in Germany.”


“The Red Cross has a long tradition of assisting migrants in Germany. It stretches back to the Second World War and runs 200 information center for migrants and refugees nationwide,” added Osche.

Last year, the German Red Cross was tasked with setting up and running two camps in Bavaria, a response replicated in other parts of the country when the federal government turns to Red Cross for humanitarian support.


The camps have received support by the Red Cross Societies of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Canada, USA, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Sweden and Switzerland. This support means it is the only national German Red Cross relief operation within Germany carried out using international support in recent history.


The German Red Cross has in turn provided support to the Hellenic Red Cross and the Red Cross in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.