veggies in a market in Tangier, Morocco (according to Eurostat 4,255 asylum applicants came to Europe from Morocco in 2014).
A reader wrote:
If you write “most refugees are not welfare parasites” (emphasis on “most”, which suggests that the others are!) then this is in my point of view a descent beyond bar room level.
I didn’t intend to suggest that what you claim I may have suggested. That is my sentence:
“where I need to highlight that those refugees are mostly from areas with war and terror and not “Wohlstandsparasiten” (“welfare parasites”)”
includes apriori the possibility that the rest of refugees may also be “coming from areas with war and terror and not “Wohlstandsparasiten (“welfare parasites”)”.
Or in other words I find it too hard to make general judgements about all refugees, but I think it is justified to point out that a big share of refugees are people in need and that their motivation to come to Europe is not apriori to feed themselves at the expense of the host (as is the case for parasitism). And yes in fact – a lot of the refugees even directly say that they would like to work, i.e. in some sense would like to “give back”. But at this point it also doesn’t make sense to talk away problems. Like given the unemployment in big parts of Europe it is already for non-refugees hard to “give back” and “make a living”. I have myself lived for quite some time on the expenses of my husband, where I wasn’t able to “make a living” (where it should be said that it is not so easy to contain what this expression compasses). And there is more.
Europe is partially already rather densely populated, much denser than a lot of the places where refugees come from and partially some european regions lie in rather less easy-inhabitable zones (frost). An average inhabitant of Germany eats more food as there is agricultural land for growing within Germany (even if one would take out the meat then this gets already quite tight, according to world bank there were in 2012 about 1400 m^2/person and prices soar). This has to be paid for. Likewise the heating in winter. The soil in Brandenburg is partially very bad. Germany has to buy fuel. etc. In short: the essentials food and living space are not abundant in Germany.
Due to the now rather sudden new large numbers of refugees the “squeezing in” of additional people gets even more difficult than usual, i.e. for example here in Berlin new homes had to be built and according to the newspaper “Morgenpost” there was not enough control and thus there was possibly fraud involved with the housing and thus the average costs per refugee have surged by quite a bit. According to Morgenpost the absolute costs for refugees in Berlin increased within the last 4 years by a factor of 45, while the number of refugees in Berlin increased by a factor of 4 to around 12000 people/year. Or in numbers according to the newspapers citation of Sozialstaatssekretär Dirk Gerstle: since 2010 the costs increased from 2,1 million Euro to roughly 94,9 million Euro in 2014. Not really nothing for a city which has accumulated already around 60 billion Euro debts. And I am not sure but I could imagine that the costs do not include education and child care, which costs are already quite a problem not only in Germany but for example also in Kent. Let alone Greece. In this context you might find it worthwhile to read this randform post about political vs. economic freedom as a response to a blog post by Scott Aaronson.
What does this sum of roughly 100 million Euros refugee costs mean for the average Berliner?
There are about 1.8 million earners in Berlin the new costs for Berlin amounts thus to about 53 Euros per Berlin earner/year, which -if you earn around a minimum wage like with a rather strenous check-out operative work – means about one more day of your life/year sitting at the cash point plus most probably more waiting hours in city offices, more fights about school places etc. If there is no emotional component then those costs may understandably be not so easily embraced. For some better earners the additional cost may however encompass just a café latte less per month. Judge yourself who would tend to be more “welcoming” and why.
It is clear that the background of the refugees is very diverse but by listening to what some of them say in interviews I got the feeling that at least some of those interviewed refugees had very incomplete and partially very false imaginations about the place they flee to. Likewise the knowledge about the facets of oppression in the respective countries is often rather incomplete and sometimes not so easy to evaluate as can be seen at the discussions around a danish report about the situation of returners to Eritrea (according to Eurostat there where 36,925 asylum applicants from Eritrea in 2014):
Professor Gaim Kibreab, a professor of refugee studies at London’s South Bank University, was involved in the producing of the report, but on Friday withdrew his support for the outcome, claiming that Udlændingestyrelsen had misrepresented his quotations to produce a rosier picture of conditions in the country.
and the country’s representative in the Nordic countries, Yonas Manna Bairu
rejected however that illegal immigrants and deserters would be automatically imprisoned or subjected to torture. “That’s nonsense,” he said.
“Refugees say whatever gives them the best chance to be accepted in the country. We don’t have the capacity. How many people can you throw in prison?”
If you balance the problems which are to be faced for the case of return to a country of origin with those which are to be faced for the case of staying in the host country then for some cases the perceptions of refugee and host might thus diverge quite a bit.
It should also be said that Berlin has some rather long term experiences with the integration of immigrants and culturally different groups (currently roughly 30% of Berlin’s current population is either foreign or german with migration background (roughly half half)) but unfortunately not all integration efforts were a “success story” – mildly speaking. In particular it seems that there might be a correlation between population spikes and political unrest. Within the newer history especially the discussions about certain efforts in the district of Neukölln, and some of the ongoings in this context, like the controversial death of Kirsten Heisig display a bit the scope of the problems.