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Germany Is Not Doing Everything It Can To Help Refugees Integrate

ICE Graveyard 21/04/2016 Peter Maffay

For a year now, no topic has been of greater concern to Germans than the refugee crisis. I have been as moved as everyone else has been by the issue. I think that the crisis is more serious than many could even imagine. And I believe that both politics and the media are making grave mistakes in their handling of this crisis -- and they are therefore missing out on many opportunities.
A couple of months ago, I said that a dry sponge can only soak up so much water. At some point, the sponge reaches its full capacity for absorption. This statement has inspired plenty of criticism. Is this a correct position to take if you're on the left?
The fact is, the analogy was intended to illustrate that every society can reach its maximum capacity. If a crisis is poorly managed, society reaches this point sooner rather than later. If the right decisions are made, this saturation point may be delayed. However, this threshold will never completely disappear.
Currently, I believe that we are making the wrong decisions in many areas -- or are failing to make decisions altogether.
I am experiencing this on a personal level. We have 20 refugees living at home with us -- we are trying to help them integrate into our country. This is an extremely difficult task. First, in terms of finding a job, the refugees are trapped. They can't even work. If they are able to work after a few months, we would have to obtain complicated permits -- and report their wages to the authorities. It is an unbelievably bureaucratic nightmare.
This is how it is for thousands of refugees at the moment. They would like to work, and assimilate, but they are not allowed to. That shows how unequipped we are at handling the task of integration.

Psychologists are already warning that there is an insufficient number of help centers in Germany to heal the emotional scars of these young people.

There is nothing more important for asylum seekers than these two things: Education for the children and work for the parents. Both are not going out very well. This is a paradoxical situation -- for a country with such a large number of vacancies.
We must give refugees more chances to construct their own lives -- the chance to provide for themselves and their families. I know from personal experience that is truly what they want.
But we must act fast. Because we are facing a difficult situation. Germany is economically strong, but come the next economic downtown we may be encountering significant social upheaval. Who would then pay the additional cost for schools, housing, and childcare that asylum seekers will need?
Many counties are already stretched to their financial limit. If tax revenue were to diminish due to a crisis, it would tighten the belt for all of us -- for refugees and citizens of Germany.
The faster the refugees can be given permission to work and provide for their families, the better we will weather the next crisis.
However, there is another issue that is every bit if not even more important: the children who have been completely neglected. Thousands of young people -- children and teenagers -- are coming to our country. Their lives have been plagued by horror, because they are coming to us from the world's conflict zones.
I must ask: What will happen to this generation?
Psychologists are already warning that there is an insufficient number of help centers in Germany to heal the emotional scars of these young people. How are these children supposed to become normal, integrated adults who go to school and build careers? Many of them will stay in our country for a long time -- perhaps even permanently. So we have to help them now, and not wait until they become at-risk youth.
The influx of refugees will only decrease when the senseless killing stops.

We want to talk about these problems: The lack of educational integration, the scarcity of psychologists, and the shortage of therapy facilities.
We also have to talk about solutions. Which projects are helpful to refugee children today? What ideas could we learn from on a national level? However, it would be a mistake to search for solutions to the refugee crisis only in Germany. This would lead to failure.
The Turkey or Libya deals are not solutions. The current contingency plans only serve to postpone the question of saturating the outer borders of the European Union.
We must help to solve the problems at the source, that is, in Syria, for example, or in other parts of the Middle East and Africa. Because the influx of refugees will only decrease when the senseless killing stops. Unfortunately, I have seen little progress in this regard in recent years.
What I have noticed is that many Germans are no longer willing to deal with the complexity of the situation. They no longer believe the politicians or the media. That has been proven by the recent election results.
In that regard, the media is more important than ever. Since we live in a democracy, we cannot force anyone to take a certain position. We can only try to educate the people.
Not everyone in Germany is well-informed. For instance, there are many young people who have no idea what happened in Germany between 1933 and 1945. As a result, they are unaware of the danger we are currently facing.
There are plenty of people who are rekindling the flames of hate. And thousands are jumping back into the fire.

I find the kinds of slogans I am hearing at demonstrations these days unbelievable. People must be wondering if history is repeating itself in Germany. And it's true. Hitler and World War II didn't happen that long ago. There are plenty of people who are rekindling the flames of hate. And thousands are jumping back into the fire. We are regressing.
This situation can only be deescalated with education. Radio and television must instigate this educational process. But what is on the radio today? The broadcasters are lulling the masses with shallow nonsense. Especially the private broadcasters. Meanwhile, public broadcasters are neglecting their educational function and pandering to the masses instead. This has the negative outcome of creating a monoculture, at the detriment of multiplicity. The radio is just playing what the listener supposedly wants to hear. Critical thinkers who might possibly bring up or analyze complex issues are not given the chance to speak -- lest they and disturb the harmony.
The mass media has an obligation to inform, and especially, to educate. We need this more than ever now.
Immigration has made Germany stronger. I still remember how it was to come here and to have to keep going somehow. It was difficult, but we had help. At the same time, we were always ready to bring something to society.
All these questions are important ones. And I am convinced that we have to discuss them. That is why I am at HuffPost Germany today.
This post first appeared on HuffPost Germany. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.

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