On 15 July Foreign Minister Steinmeier joined two Syrian refugee families in rural Brandenburg for iftar, the traditional evening meal taken by Muslims to break their fast in Ramadan. He thanked the German host family for its civic engagement and called for a political settlement to the Syrian conflict.
The Syrian families fled the armed conflict in their home country and have found refuge in Germany. They include Amira (23) and Hafiz (32), who had attended university back home, and who explained how happy they had been in their home town of Homs before the civil war started.
Their escape from the war took them on a real-life odyssey that finally ended in Germany. In this difficult situation, the two have been very fortunate to find the support of a German host family which is assisting them on a voluntary basis. The host family provides not only lodging, but is also helping them to navigate a strange new world.
Civic engagement praised
During his visit, Foreign Minister Steinmeier praised the voluntary support offered by many Germans to the refugees. Many refugees yearn for nothing more than to be able to return home to their families as soon as possible. This longing is even stronger during Ramadan, which is traditionally celebrated with family. The daily iftar, the meal to break the fast at sunset, is normally taken together in a large gathering of friends and relatives.
Steinmeier underscored the significance of Ramadan as a symbol of peace, and said how sad he was that even now, in the fifth year since the outbreak of violence in Syria, no end to the civil war was in sight. It was therefore vital, he continued, for us to keep up our efforts to find a political solution for Syria.