Global Perspectives | Bericht | 19. January 2022

Karamba Diaby: “We damn well have a duty to offer something to refugees.”

GP Interview on the reasons for migration and Germany's migration and foreign policy

Karamba Diaby

Karamba Diaby has been a member of the German Bundestag for the SPD since 2013. He is a member of the Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development and the Foreign Affairs Committee and Integration Officer of the SPD Parliamentary Group. He is particularly committed to the issues of education, environment and health. 





GPI: Mr. Diaby, Ottilia Maunganidze emphasises in our podcast that legal migration routes must be created to stop people from dying while crossing the Mediterranean Sea. What will change under the new German government in terms of migration and security?

Karamba Diaby: In terms of migration, the new federal government has set out to ensure that we create legal routes to give people the opportunity to immigrate to Germany. In doing so, we want to continue what we started doing in the Grand coalition: making a clear distinction between flight and migration for the purpose of taking up work. Under the Grand Coalition, we last created a Skilled Workers Immigration Act (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz), albeit with many, many restrictions. The former coalition partner always wanted to set a maximum number of 25,000 people to immigrate to Germany. We, on the other hand, said “No, we have to be guided by the needs of our labor market.” We turned out to be right, because despite Corona and restrictions on mobility worldwide, as many as 30,000 people came to Germany as skilled immigrants. That’s good, and we want to reduce bureaucracy there and simplify the process in the interest of our labor market. The other is the humanitarian pillar: people who have really left their homeland because of war or environmental disasters – we damn well have a duty to offer them something. Of course, under our current legislation, they are allowed to apply for asylum. We also have flexibility there, for example the 3+2 Rule: three years of training, two years of professional activity. If you have a vocational qualification, then you can stay. We want to simplify that. We want to abolish the repeated renewal of their toleration certificate. We are not changing the right to asylum, which remains in place because it is a right enshrined in the Basic Law. But we want to prevent people from taking dangerous routes. We must find an end to deaths in the Mediterranean. And, of course, cooperation with the countries of origin plays a role. If we cooperate with the countries, then of course you have to offer them an alternative.

GPI: You just talked about people having to leave their country. More and more people are fleeing the direct and indirect consequences of climate change. Is it time to rethink the classic definition of refugees in terms of political persecution?

Karamba Diaby: Absolutely. The fact is that we have repeatedly improved it in the past, that certain aspects have been added, for example specific reasons of persecution for women, but also for other groups. I think climate catastrophes are currently also among the reasons why people are leaving their familiar surroundings. We see that in our own country with flood disasters. If Germany didn’t have these support programmes, people might have gone somewhere else, too. That means in many countries in this world, we will see people losing their livelihoods because of environmental disasters, because of climate change. If we look at such things realistically, they are of course among the causes of flight. Of course, we have to adjust our criteria accordingly. One can also be threatened in life and limb by the environment. So, we should also approach the refugee definition flexibly.

GPI: Foreign climate policy will be a major topic for the new government. Is that also a focus of the G7 meeting in June?

Karamba Diaby: Yes, the Foreign Minister has said that she will focus on foreign policy, of course in coordination with the coalition. We want to work consistently for global climate protection, and that includes supporting the adaptation processes of the countries of the Global South. It is part of bilateral and multilateral relations to take all these aspects into account. If I may add to that: I am the rapporteur for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as part of my work in the Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development. This means that we have to integrate all these aspects – whether it’s education, poverty, children’s rights or women’s rights – and keep them in mind, also in connection with climate change. In other words, we really have a huge challenge that we see in a complex context. There is a connection with international cooperation, that we link them together, that we don’t discuss them separately. Of course, this would be incredibly important for the climate issue, and it will play a very, very important role in foreign policy.

GPI: If we look at the fact that most migrants in Africa are either internally displaced in their own country or find refuge in neighbouring countries, can Germany learn something from the migration policies of African states?

Karamba Diaby: We have positive examples on the African continent, for example Uganda. There, people try to reach out to the refugees according to the motto “You need something; no one leaves their familiar surroundings voluntarily.” That’s well known. But when that happens, that the host also reaches out and offers something. Uganda is not one of the rich countries in the world, but still, for example, refugees are offered to work in agriculture or in certain areas, where they can then earn money their own money by their own efforts. Of course, not everyone wants to work in agriculture or in a certain field, but these offers are made for refugees and migrant so that they don’t have to rely on help from the state. I think these are positive examples. We can learn about the opportunities offered in cooperation with the states. And if we are serious about combating the causes of flight, we can work with the countries to develop concepts for younger people who want to have prospects and a future in the country.

GPI: Thank you very much for the interview and your assessment. Is there anything else you would like to mention, a point that we may not have addressed?

Karamba Diaby: What is also important for me is the issue of health. For two years now, the pandemic has gripped the world. Here, we also have to think globally. Germany is doing a lot in this area. In the procurement of vaccines under COVAX, Germany is participating incredibly strongly; we have contributed more than two billion euros. But it is important to me that cooperation in this area is sustainable. For vaccine donations, there are difficulties with the expiration dates, that they have expired before they get to the people. Difficult storage conditions and logistics in countries. In the short term, donating vaccines is good. Long-term and sustainable is when we transfer know-how and partner countries then produce our own vaccines. When we contribute to global health, we also contribute to people staying in their home countries, not saying “You’re vaccinating, you’re healthy now, we’re coming to you.” Sometimes that’s involuntary. And if someone says “I actually want to stay here,” then we should continue to work together with countries on the health care sector. That’s also one of the focus topics that I would like to address in the near future.

GPI: Thank you very much for the interview and your assessment, Mr. Diaby.

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