2016 already deadliest year in the Med

“ During the first eight months of 2016, some 281,740 people have made the treacherous sea crossing to Europe. The number of refugees and migrants arriving in Greece has dropped dramatically from over 67,000 in January to 3,437 in August, following the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and the closure of the so-called Balkan route. The number of arrivals to Italy, meanwhile, has remained more or less constant, with some 115,000 refugees and migrants landing in Italy as of the end of August, compared to 116,000 during the same period last year.

The main change, however, has been the number of casualties. So far this year, one person has died for every 42 crossing from North Africa to Italy, compared to one in every 52 last year. This makes 2016 to date the deadliest year on record in the Central Mediterranean. The chances of dying on the Libya to Italy route are ten times higher than when crossing from Turkey to Greece.“




Mosul Flash Appeal

„Humanitarian partners in Iraq are warning that urgent steps need to be taken to prepare for Mosul. Partners are appealing for USD 284 million to start preparing for the operation, which could impact as many as 1.5 million civilians. (…) Military operations by the Government of Iraq and its allies to retake areas from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are already forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians, including more than 85,000 people from Fallujah, to flee their homes in search of safety. More than 3.3 million Iraqis are currently displaced across the country and as many as 2.5 million more people may become newly displaced along the Anbar and Mosul corridors and in Mosul city in the months ahead.
Although front-line partners are racing to provide support, virtually every camp and reception centre receiving newly displaced families is already at full capacity. Families who are displaced require a broad range of life-saving and specialized assistance. The most immediate needs are for water, food, emergency shelter, and medical assistance. (…) The costs of the Mosul humanitarian operation itself will depend on the scale, duration and intensity of the battle for the city. Humanitarian partners, working closely with governmental counterparts, have developed a range of scenarios from limited destruction and limited displacement for a limited period to massive destruction and massive displacement for a long period. In a worst case, nearly USD 1.8 billion may be required to support the people in trouble. (…)“




Every minute 24 people are displaced

Today is „World Refugee Day“, like every year on June, 20th. All over the world activities, campaigns, etc. are planned. It is ever more sad to see that every year the numbers of people who are forced to flee their homes to seek safety inside or outside their countries. Since a few years we can read the headlines „the highest number of refugees since World War II“…. and the numbers are still rising.

Today 65,3 million people are displaced by conflict and persecution – that means 1 person in 113! Every minute 24 people are displaced – 4 times more than 10 years ago! More than half of it are children.

And what do we do about this? Producing ever more articles, campaigns, projects, demonstrations, touching videos. Many people do not want to accept this, but it needs a common global approach to fight the causes of displacement and to support those who have no other choice than fleeing their home.

As Mr. Grandi rightly states: “The willingness of nations to work together not just for refugees but for the collective human interest is what’s being tested today, and it’s this spirit of unity that badly needs to prevail.”


After 2 years working as a humanitarian for Syrian and Iraqi refugees and IDPs in the Turkey, Syria and Iraq, with growing numbers of displacement and people in need of humanitarian assistance, while at the same time funding is cut and so called peace talks are leading nowhere, I am sometimes disillusioned. There is so much to be done, so many solutions to be found and so many people to be supported that it sometimes feels overwhelming. Reading and hearing at the same time hate speeches or racists comments, political speeches or articles, especially towards refugees, all over the world, but especially in the West, I sometimes fear about the direction we are heading to. Like many of my friends and colleagues I will continue the way of supporting refugees and IDPs in the countries where they come from and/or were they stay in the region as well as back home.

I still believe in humanity and in the fact that supporting and protecting  children, women and men who are forced to leave their country is a human obligation.

Who are we to believe that it is always ‚the others‘ who have to face the tragedies we only read in the news?

World Refugee Day 2016 – what can we do to not have an even higher number of displaced people June, 20th 2017?

In the name of humanity

we all have to try harder 

– to achieve peace

– to help people in need

– to open up instead of closing ourselves in

– to understand, that in the 21. century, where we all seem to be so globalized and connected, so many of us are left behind

– to realize, that people deserve a life in peace and dignity

– to understand, that we are one race, one blood…one world!

we have to, because if not…would we dare and bear the consequences?

EU Turkey deal – Europe walks away from people in need

MSF published an open letter to the EU Member States and institutions following the EU-Turkey agreement on refugees.

I fully support MSF’s concern, that this agreement violates the human right of seeking asylum and has huge protection consequences, which can already be seen and have already been documented by e.g. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

As a European citizen from Germany growing up in peaceful lands after the horrors of two World Wars it is unbelievable to see that our decision makers and unfortunately also too many of my fellow citizen seem to have forgotten, that not so long ago the wish of fleeing war and persecution was the wish of our grandparents and parents. I know it is not easy in light of the crises in this world to find solutions and ways for all the people in need! But we have to try! As humans with hearts and minds, we cannot just turn our backs, shift responsibilities and hope that things will just change. Look around you: as long as there is war and conflict, natural catastrophes, economic inequality, and poverty people – children, women and men – will move to a ’safer and better place‘. We cannot just walk away!



HRW: Turkey: Border Guards Kill and Injure Asylum Seekers

„Turkey is entitled to secure its border with Syria, but is obliged to respect the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits rejecting asylum seekers at borders when that would expose them to the threat of persecution, torture, and threats to life and freedom. Turkey is also obliged to respect international norms on use of lethal force as well as the rights to life and bodily integrity, including the absolute prohibition on subjecting anyone to inhuman and degrading treatment.

The violence against Syrian refugees, and Turkey’s refusal to allow them to cross the border, comes as the European Union has shut its own borders to asylum seekers. In March, the EU concluded a controversial migration deal with Ankara to curb refugee and migration flows to Europe, committing €6 billion in aid to assist Syrians in Turkey, reinvigorating Turkey’s EU membership negotiations, and offering the prospect of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens. The deal provides for Europe to return migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees, including Syrians, who reach Greece by boat, on the grounds that Turkey is a safe country for them. The deal also commits the EU to work with Turkey to create areas inside Syria that will be “more safe.”

“The EU shouldn’t just stand by and watch as Turkey uses live ammunition and rifle butts to stem the refugee flow,” said Simpson. “EU officials should recognize that their red light for refugees to enter the EU gives Turkey a green light to close its border, exacting a heavy price on war-ravaged asylum seekers with nowhere else to go.”



Displacement in Iraq Exceeds 3.4 Million

‚The latest IOM Iraq Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) identified 3,418,332 internally displaced Iraqis (569,722 families) from 1 January 2014 through 31 March 2016.‘

‚IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss said: “IOM is very concerned about ongoing and recent displacement across Iraq. With more than 3.4 million Iraqis now displaced, humanitarian resources are stretched. Additional resources are needed to assist displaced Iraqis, many of whom were forced to leave their homes at a moment’s notice and require comprehensive support. IOM will continue to cooperate with the UN Humanitarian Country Team, humanitarian partners, government authorities and our donors, to assist displaced populations throughout the country.”‘Round42_Report_English_2016_March_31_IOM_DTM


Review 20 months in SE Turkey supporting refugees and IDPs

It is time to review the last 20 months I spent in Gaziantep.

I will never forget the big decision I took in spring 2014 to pack my bag and “go to the field” in order to finally find a job in the humanitarian sector. After endless unsuccessful applications, several volunteer jobs in the refugee support field in Germany and a “career” as a waitress, it was about time to either go or stay and find “another job”. As it has been a matter of my heart for years to support refugees and give them a voice, “another job” has never been an option. Following the advice of people in the field and after long talks with family and friends I started to plan the big step. Due to my prior experience in Turkey, my love for the country, my networks and above all the fact, that Turkey has been one of the major host countries for Syrian refugees, Gaziantep was a reasonable place for me to go. Luckily, the Turkish NGO ASAM offered me a volunteer position in their newly established Multi Service Centre for Syrians in Antep. In order to fund myself I started a crowdfunding campaign. The result was overwhelming, not only in regards to the money I rose, but especially in regards to the support I got from so many people. So I took a plane mid-July and an outstanding experience started!

My time at ASAM was the cornerstone for everything I am doing now. I was new to the area, the field and the work on the ground with people in need fleeing from a terrible war, everybody thought will be over soon. I too, thought back in the days, that the worst time of the situation in Syria will soon be over – unfortunately, this did not come true! In the beginning it was tough for me to listen to all these horrifying and sad story and to realize very quickly, that there will never be enough support for everyone. This proofed me even more, that it was the right decision to come to the region, where the biggest humanitarian crisis since WW2 had developed.

I was lucky to simultaneously become an intern with the German INGO Welthungerhilfe (WHH). WHH back then was remotely working inside Syria and started to support off-camp refugees in Turkey. Despite the fact, that until today most politicians and the media refer to refugees in camps, the majority – more than 80% – live outside the camps as so called “urban refugees”. They are mostly excluded from services, like health, shelter, food, education, protection and have almost no access to the labour market.

Shortly after I started with WHH, IS gained vast territories in Syria and Iraq and forcibly displaced thousands of people in Northern Iraq, especially brutal in the areas, where Yazidis lived. Many of them fled to Turkey, but as they are not Syrians, hence fall under a different regime in Turkish foreigner/refugee law, the support for them was even less than for the millions of Syrians. The majority of the displaced families fled further North in their country, to the areas reigned by the Kurdish government – Kurdistan Iraq. Another humanitarian response was needed in order to give those IDPs rapid emergency assistance, such as food, shelter and basic needs.

As winter was approaching, months, which pose an extraordinary challenges on families residing in makeshift camps/shelter, unfinished buildings or ruins, winter aid in Turkey, Syria and Iraq was a huge need. For two weeks I was part of a team distributing winter items to hundreds of families house-to-house in Gaziantep. I will never forget that! In the city, which is the hub for the UN and all INGOs, where I lived with friends and had nice evenings out, the housing situation of the most vulnerable families made me speechless and often very sad! Again, I realized, we will never be able to serve and support everyone. This puts me and I assume many of my colleagues in a difficult situation, and even though we all work based on so-called “vulnerability criteria”, you often feel uncomfortable to decide, who receives aid and who does not. A challenge I have faced since then and will face in the future. Who are we to decide? How can I judge? And how can I reach out to the most vulnerable?

In summer 2015, I was sent on my first mission to WHH’s sub-office in Dohuk, Northern Iraq. Before this mission, I admit, I was afraid. The word “Iraq” itself has been for years and years associated with war and terror and I had friends, who fled Iraq. I had no clear imagination of how things were. If someone would have told me, that not even 9 months later, I will voluntarily move to Iraq, I would have laughed out loud! But the more I visited Kurdistan Iraq, I realized how much work has to be done here as well.

After a while I decided to apply within the organization for a job in Dohuk. After more than 1,5 years in Southeast Turkey, I felt it was time to develop further in another region to learn more and to be able to do my job better – one day being able to advocate on higher levels for refugee rights!

Unfortunately, the situation in Syria became not better at all, and, like most INGOs we were forced to remotely manage projects – for me an unsatisfying task – too far away from the people I want to support, sitting in a bubble on the other side of the border. Moreover, the security situation in Turkey has constantly deteriorated since the horrible suicide bombing in Suruc in summer 2015. Not only made it our work harder, due to access problems, but makes me particularly sad. It shows as well, that times really do not look good for the region….

At the same time the topic “refugees” reached Europe. I will not go into details about this here. Even though I was aware of the weaknesses of the European Asylum System and its consequences on people in need and the European countries, I would have never imagined how weak Europe handles the current and ongoing situation, leaving basic human rights and international law behind.

There is a lot of work to be done – more than ever I believe that we need more humanity, hearts and minds in order to face the challenges here in the region as well as worldwide!

I now started my new job in Dohuk – a job in a country, which at the moment can be seen as one of the ‘forgotten crises’. Even though Iraq hosts more than 10 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, more than 3 million people are internally displaced and more than 250.000 Syrian refugees reside in the country, it is not on the international agenda any more.

My heart stays with Syria and its people, my Syrian friends and colleagues, and I will continue to support, but at the same time there are millions of people just a few kilometers away, who also need individual and international support. I will also try to do my best here – together with colleagues and friends!