Many people who set out to Europe are encouraged to flee by false promises made by human traffickers and by rumours peddled about the situation in Germany. The Federal Government is countering these rumours with a public awareness campaign.
“All refugees coming to Germany are entitled to a house.” This rumour made the rounds of the social networks in Lebanon a few weeks ago. The German Embassy corrected this false statement and provided information about the actual situation of asylum seekers in Germany.
Realistic assessment of likelihood of being allowed to remain in Germany
The aim behind these efforts is to inform the public so that would‑be refugees can better assess their prospects in Europe.
Germany’s Embassies and information centres are monitoring social networks and traditional media sources in order to detect and dispel false rumours.
What is more, they provide information on education and development programmes supported by Germany that aim to offer people in the countries of origin and first arrival prospects for the future.
Facebook, Twitter, radio
Information is communicated to citizens in the region in a variety of different ways. Facebook plays a central role among Syrian refugees, while radio is considered the best way to address the target group in Africa.
In Afghanistan, the German Embassy launched a poster campaign to raise awareness about the difficulties and risks of emigration and to encourage people to work to rebuild the country. “Leaving Afghanistan? Are you sure?” and “Leaving Afghanistan? Have you thought this through?”. The German Embassy has put up posters displaying these questions in major cities in Afghanistan in the local languages of Dari and Pashto.
The Embassy also uses Twitter and Facebook, under the hashtag #RumoursAboutGermany, to not only communicate information about Germany’s asylum policy, but also to dispel the rumour that Germany is turning its back on efforts to reconstruct Afghanistan.
Disproving a battery of rumours
In Lebanon, where there are especially great numbers of Syrian refugees, the focus of the Embassy’s information policy is on Twitter and Facebook. However, employees at the German Embassy in Beirut also recently resorted to using a megaphone to raise awareness about false rumours for refugees waiting outside. Furthermore, the German information centre in Cairo has published a paper in Arabic, which has also been published by that traditional media.
Many viral, outlandish rumours, such as the claim that Germany would be sending ships to the Middle East to collect refugees, have since vanished from social media sites.
And the rumour that refugees in Germany are entitled to a house has all but disappeared, which is also thanks to the public awareness campaign by the German Embassy in Beirut.