On Monday (7 November), Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi at the Federal Foreign Office. They discussed current humanitarian crises, for example in Syria and in Yemen, as well as the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons around the world. Considering in particular the severe crises in Africa, Foreign Minister Steinmeier pledged to provide the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with an additional 61 million euros for humanitarian aid.
We must not lose sight of crises in Africa
“More than 60 million people – never before have so many people been forced to flee their homes,” the German Foreign Minister said after the meeting. “Of course, the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the neighbouring countries is a special focus of our aid efforts.” At the same time, he made clear that, “looking beyond the situation in the Middle East, we also have a responsibility not to lose sight of crises that are currently not getting global attention.”
As examples of crises that are not appearing daily on television screens, Steinmeier mentioned the Lake Chad Basin region, South Sudan, Somalia and Burundi. In these countries, the situation has “recently worsened dramatically due to the escalation of existing conflicts and the flaring up of new ones, as well as climate-related natural disasters.” The countries of sub-Saharan Africa are currently sheltering the largest number of refugees in the world.
Germany is making available additional humanitarian aid
Against this background, the German Foreign Minister issued the following statement today:
Thanks to support provided by the German Bundestag, I have been able to confirm to Filippo Grandi today that before the end of the year we will be making available to the UNHCR 61 million euros for additional humanitarian aid, to respond to the acute crises in Africa.
With this funding, people can be given assistance close to their home regions and will not feel compelled to set out on a dangerous journey to Europe. The additional funding shall be used for UNHCR projects to aid internally displaced persons and refugees in Burundi, Mali, Somalia and South Sudan, as well as in neighbouring countries, and to assist people in the Lake Chad Basin region who are affected by terrorist activities of Boko Haram.
Germany has greatly increased its humanitarian aid funding
In recent years, Germany has greatly increased its funding for humanitarian assistance. By steadily expanding its financial support, Germany has become the UN Refugee Agency’s second-largest contributor. With the current pledge of 61 million euros, German aid to the Agency in 2016 amounts to a total of 298 million euro. “We want to continue to set a good example so that other members of the international community will follow in our footsteps or step up their existing engagement,” Foreign Minister Steinmeier said.