The questions are simple. They address rumours that are widely circulated among migrants and potential refugees, for example, “Will I receive a welcome payment in Germany?” To this, a new website set up by the Federal Foreign Office to get correct information to migrants clearly answers “No”. It goes on to say that, “Contrary to rumours and misinformation deliberately spread by human traffickers, Germany does not provide a welcome payment.”
Information campaign #rumoursaboutgermany
With the website www.rumoursaboutgermany.info, the Federal Foreign Office is continuing its information campaign of the same name, which it has been conducting abroad since the autumn of 2015. The new site, which is available in English, French and Arabic, gives a compact overview of all relevant information for migrants and refugees and provides the facts. It is thus meant to debunk common rumours that are being spread online by human traffickers. “The page has also been designed for use on smartphones. It contains simple and clearly formulated information for a target audience that is considering coming to, or is already en route to or has arrived in, Germany,” explains Andreas Kindl, Director for Strategic Communication, when asked about the idea behind the new website.
Getting rid of misinformation
To draw migrants’ attention to the site, it is being advertised throughout Germany and in the countries of origin, on various social media platforms and with flyers. As the name #rumoursaboutgermany indicates, its main aim is to get rid of misinformation by providing facts. In countries such as Nigeria, Pakistan or Algeria, rumours about Germany run rampant – these include the claim that, in Germany, every refugee receives a house as a gift. Human traffickers often deliberately spread such fabricated stories through the social media.
Providing the facts
“We provide the facts; we tell people that starting a new life in Germany is not as easy as many may think – without making the mistake of giving only negative examples,” says Kindl. For example, the website debunks the rumour that people everywhere in Germany speak English, or that the government gives everyone a job. Other articles target those who have already set out on what is frequently a dangerous journey to Europe, giving them possible alternatives. It contains profiles of the various programmes that support voluntary returnees, the humanitarian programmes that exist in refugee camps in transit states such as Mali, Jordan and Lebanon, and assistance programmes in the countries of origin. “The most important aim of our Rumours about Germany campaign is to not leave the human traffickers’ myths and rumours unchallenged on the Internet, but to provide correct information ourselves. Through fact‑based communication, we want to properly inform all those who are thinking about fleeing their home or migrating, or who have already set out on their way. In the end, we want to provide clarity,” Kindl emphasises. “We’re fighting the rumour mill with reliable facts.”