Good morning Ladies and Gentelmen,
dear colleagues and students
it´s a great honour for me to have been asked to take part at the Libori Summer School 2018. The Center for history of women philospohers and scientists here in Paderborn is
always ahead of the time.
When we planned last year in autoumn this years subject, nobody thought that this ubject would still touch us so much.
The situation of refugees worldwide and escpecially that of women and children.
As I am asked to speek at this last day of the Libori Summer School, I would like to draw a balance on this weeks subjects. We had a look on Afghanistan, India, and the Congo. Always concentrating on the situation of women and children there. Because they are worth nothing there.
And it´s beeing expressed very clear in an UN-list: those are the countries, where it´s most dangerous to be born as a girl.
Then we turned to the present situation: the situation of the refugee women, children and men living now in Lebanon and Jordan, in Turkey and on the Greek islands . And we had a look at Lesbos - a hotspot in the Agaen Sea.
I have been to all those places for my research. I did that because I believe one should only report about things that one has seen , heard and experienced personally. It´s not good to trust in third sources.
And since I am - as you may have felt meanwhile - a hundred percent journalist and feminist as well, fighting for the sake of women, I concentrated on the subjects war, violence and escape.
Do you still remember the summer 2015, when we saw on the TV-screens thousands and thousands of young men trying to escape to Germany, via the Balcanroute. When I saw those pictures, I was always asking myself: where did they leave their wifes, daughters and mothers? To get the answer I visited the refugee camps outside the fortress Europe. In Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey and on the Greek island of Lesbos.
Here they were living and a great part of them is still living there. That ist now, in August 2018, 3,6 Million women and children. And in the camps are only the grandfathers and elderly men, who are no longer able to continue the escape.
The reason why those people escaped was and still is the war in Syria. The second reason, why the men, fathers and sons tried to continue their escape to Europa without their families was caused by the world food programme. Because the industrial nations didn´t donate enough money, the New York authority had to reduce the monthly payment from 26 to 13 Dollar per refugee.
That was the moment, when the refugees got afraid to starve. At that moment the refugees put together the last money they had, or they sold what was not really needed, like jewellery,
to support the one strong man, the father, the son, to reach Europe.
Always in hope that the missing part of the family could soon follow as well.
The refugees in the camps knew all the asylum laws and many of them remember the selfie - showing Angela Merkel with a Syrian refugee.
And they knew that according to the German asylum law a recognized asylum seeker was entitled to a reunion with his family. That´s how the law was at that time.
The right wing parties and groups in Germany try to cancel or deny that law. And now it´s no longer possible, they were successful.
You might remember the discussions about subsidiary refugees and the planned family reunion. During those winter months I met almost only women and children on Lesbos. Night by night they were arriving in those shaky dingis from Turkey. Every morning round about 2000 refugees and a total of 900 000 made it´s way in one year to Europe via the small Greek island.
At least until March, when the EU-treaty with Turkey was signed.
For those, who made it until this day to Greece, a drama began in the small city of Idomeni. Because Macedonia closed it´s borders. After weeks in rain, or on muddy grounds and at low temperatures and without state care, the Greeks moved the refugees camps inside the country. And still today, in 2018, abour 65 0000 people, the majority women and children, are stuck in those camps. This are the newest figures of August 2018.
Inspite of Millions of Euro paid by Brussels and of menpower detached to Greece, it appears, the Greeks are unable to cope with the asylum applications. Often is takes more than a year and it could only be done via internet. But WLan and WiFi only exist temporarily in the Greek refugee camps. That´s how it´s now the fortress Europe ....
But when you listen to the news today, read the newspaper, scroll in the internet -the drama is not yet over. And about 70 Million people- those are the latest news of the United Nations- are on escape.
70 Million- that´s the population of France.
About the half of these refugees on the move are still in their home countries, they are s called inland refugees. Horrible enough....
1,5 Million people managed to arrive in Germany.
The others are living in refugee camps around the war and crisis regions. Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Tunesia and Libya.
Under devastating circumstances. 80 % of them : women and children.
And inspite of those reports one is discussing in Europa the establishment of hotspots outside the fortress Europe. To intern there the refugees, to separate the asylum seekers from those refugees, who come to Europe to improve their economic situation. Because of the devastating economic situation in their home countries....
And after that separation the idea is, to distribute the refugees to countries willing to accept them. Or to send them back to their home countries.
I think thats inhuman, unbeleavable, are we still a civilized society? Where are humanity and sympathy and empathy gone to?
Sure: Europe can´t accept all refugees of the world and we from Europe can´t solve all the crisis and end all wars. That has to be achieved by the people living in the areas.
But we can help and share. As it was possible in Germanys and Europes history, again and again. After World War II ,16 Million refugees were integrated in the Federal Republic. And after the reunification of Germany another 16 Million people of Eastern Germany were successfully integrated in this country. And 2,4 Million Germans, who had lived in Russia sind about 100 years, were also intregrated in the Federal Republic. All this was posslible. And there are 3,6 Million Turkish based citizens living here, 1,46 Million of them have also a german passport- and were allowed to vote during the Turkish elections at the end of June.
But there are as wekll good news to report:
Meanwhile the refugee women and children in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan get more supportl At least that. Preconditon: if they are registered. Then they get 29 Dollar per month. From the World Food Organisation. And meanwhile all the industrial nations pay again. Also Germany.
But let´s have a look at the situation of the refugee women. Those, who managed in the years 21012- 16 to reach Germany. Half a Million. The average time their escape took three and a half month. It´s really hard to image what they and their children experienced during that time and what they suffered. In my last book ( No refuge for women) I described the escape of a 36years old Syrian women with her five children.
Four beautiful girls and a young boy. How she tried to hide her daughters with her veils during the long and extremely dangerous journey from Khartoum to Lybia, when she didn´t dare to sleep at night, beeing afraid that one the men, accompaniing them or at the controll stations could molest the girls. Miryam told me, she had been in panic the whole escape. And when on the small boat, of the lybian coast they were running out of petroll, when water was running into the boat, that startet sinking then, she took her little son on her shoulders, to give him a chance to survive. At that moment she felt that her life would end.
But they were lucky and survived.
One of her daughters married a Syrian men in Germany, and all the children are now speaking German fluently and they have been integrated in this country.
Myriam not. And unfortunately she doesn´t go to an integration course. It´s a pitty. During my lectures in Germany I can hear that story again and again, from Germans supporting the refugees. 17 percent of the refugee women never attended a school. But if one can´t read and write, one will not be able to learn a foreign language. The refugee women are sitting in their now safe flats. Not participating in the life of their new environment. They need an interpreter, when they go to a doctor, or when the teacher of their children wants to talk to them. Very often the children translate. Or their husbands. And this leaves women back in their old cultural environment.
Women houses and centers for refugee women try to help. With common meetings, were coffee is beeing served or where one offers to cook together. To help women find out of their isolation.
In a new study, carried out by the psychiatric clinic of the University of Berlin, 650 refugee women from Syria, Iraque, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Eritrea and Ethopia have been interviewed. The result was, that more than half of these women were near to death in their home countries or during their escape. Therefore Medica Mondiale, the organisation of Dr. Monika Hauser, demands that the care for those women and the first reception camps must be improved. 26 .percent of the women experienced discrimination in the accomodations.
But meanwhile it got better in Germany, because the communities have learned and improved the treatment of the refugees. They are trying hard now to accomodate women, children and families in flats and no longer in mass accomodations. Where they were frequently molested by men.
But still most of the refugee women are lacking of medical care. Every tenth women thinks of suicide. That´s what the University Berlin found out.
Especially for women of Eritrea the situation is dramatic.
Most of them fled because of they were afraid to be raped, to be put into prison, to be forced to marry or to suffer of FMG, female genitile mutilation.
After they arrive here, 40 percent of them say they feel a strong sadness. Maybe that´s why most of them had to pay during their escape with their bodies and got pregnant with children of experienced violence.
I wonder, how the development will be, when the Europeans really establish refugees centers outside of Europe. As decided at the end of Juni this year in Brussels. I shiver, when I try to imagine, what the women and their children will have to experience in such camps.
The vicious circle of lacking or not having school education among the women and girls, and as a consequence a lacking of knowledge of the German language, influences in a negative way the decisions wether asylum will be granted or not.
Because they often can´t - or don´t want to tell why they came here, wrong decisions are beeing made. And asylmum is then not beeing granted. Experts agree that victims of rape or violence often don´t talk. I think, thats understandable.
That´s what I also experienced during my reports in Bosnia, during the Balcan War, in Ruanda after the Genocide to the Tutsis, and also recently in Afghanistan and India as well.
But stay with me some minutes more in Germany. Where in 2015 75 % of all applications for asylum came from men between 15 and 35 years. The refugee women her are confronted with a majority of men from their culture group. That means arabic speaking men.
And what happens: The young men here are looking for their group, boys and young men, beeing like they are.
In such a group they feel safe and strong. Experts in Germany consider that as a great problem. Just such young men who lost their roots at home, and who are no longer unddser the controll of their fathers and mothers, tend to be more violent. Violent against single refugee women. And:
Here they see on posters lightly dressed women.
But they had learned at home: lightly dressed women are sluts.
Not honored. Honorable women are veiling themselves. And the alone living refugee woman do that know as well. Because of beeing afraid to be sexually molested. And only a minority do report sexual molesting. Because those women are afraid to be deported then. Not beeing recognized as refugees.
And beeing ashamed.
They still don´t know that the new sexual-crime-law came into effect with the "A no means no".
I don´t want to end my report, without reminding you once more: 3,6 Million women and children are still in August 2018 waiting in refugee camps in Lebanon, in Jordan, in the Turkey and in Greece. Europe has closed its borders. Thanks the right wing politicians and their aggressive arguments against strangers, migrants, refugees. Even when Chancellor Merkel travelled in June to Jordan and Lebanon, promising there further financial support. Worth some Millions. And one can´t repeat it often enough, that those poor countries have accepted the multiple number of refugees. In comparison to other European countries, or even to the United States and even Canada.
The family reunion in Germany has been restricted now from August 2018 to 1000 heads per month, Means 12 000 a year. But how shall the husbands, the fathers, uncles and brothers integrate themselves here, when they can only communicate with their beloved ones per internet.
The famous German criminologist Christian Pfeiffer reminds us: "Women are civilising men. When the women are missing, macho-cultures can develop and men will live macho- minded. Bearing this in mind family reunion is correct and important".
Unfortunately this reminder didn´t help very much...
But it´s not only the family reunion - no, it´s also the life situation of the refugees in the camps. Contries like Lebanon, Jordan, but also Egypt can´t cope with the financial challenge. They need our support. Which finally is now being given.
And Turkey has accepted until summer 2018 3.8 Million refugees. Most of them from Syria. Without complaining.
This might have been so, because Brussels paid Millions to the NGO´s in Turkey. Not to Mr. Erdogan. I should stress that. The EU-money goes directly to the NGO´s, like Worldhungerhelp. UNICEF, Safe the children and others. And not to the Turkish Government. Where I have been, I saw the NGO´s really taking care of the refugees.
And it´s not over yet. Refugees are still on their way all over the world. Every body willing to help, an every helping hand is being needed. And we will make it. This was the sentence of Chancelllor Angela Merkel in summer 2015- a sentence beeing used now by the right wing political groups in Germany to agitate against the Chancellor und to politicly separate the population. We shouldn´t allow to be manipulated.
I stand for the rise of the uprights. Just now.