On World Refugee Day, I look firstly with gratitude to the tremendous willingness to help and the multifaceted engagement demonstrated throughout the country as the many Ukrainians arrive here. Fleeing from Putin’s remorseless war of aggression, they are finding a safe home in Germany.
This cannot disguise the fact that the number of refugees is rising every year. The UNHCR estimates that there are now more than 100 million refugees worldwide. This is an alarming record. The majority of these people are displaced within their own country. One shocking example right now is the violent relocation of thousands of indigenous Maasai in Tanzania.
The news from Europe, however, is mixed. I welcome the compromise reached by the EU interior ministers, after years of obstructions, on the redistribution of those seeking protection. But that is just one step towards greater solidarity with those seeking protection and with EU partners, because it is entirely voluntary. At the same time, we cannot ignore human rights deficits here in Europe. These include the UK’s unacceptable migration agreement with Rwanda, the continuing pushbacks at the EU’s external borders in violation of international law, and the ongoing criminalisation of search and rescue efforts by private vessels.
On World Refugee Day, I would also like to look to Afghanistan. In less than two months, on 15 August, it will be a year since Kabul fell. I am very happy that local employees and endangered persons are still being evacuated from Afghanistan. However, I must also be critical of the fact that the Federal Government has not yet managed to adequately implement its coalition pledges. In the coalition agreement, we agreed to launch a federal humanitarian admission programme, this year for Afghanistan. In keeping with a feminist foreign policy, we want to focus in this context on women, children and marginalised groups. I expect this policy pledge to be taken seriously and the admission programme to have been launched, at the latest, by the anniversary of the fall of Kabul.
The new Federal Government has committed itself to protecting refugees and their human rights. This must be reflected in our actions on refugee policy. A human rights-based refugee policy is an integral part of a values-led foreign and domestic policy.