We interviewed our Richard von Weizsäcker-Fellow Lloyd Axworthxy. He is sure that the refugee crisis demands global solutions.
You were the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Labor. Now, you’re working on refugee policy in Germany. What can Germany learn from Canada?
Lloyd Axworthy:I’m impressed with the great interest in the issue that prevails in Germany. But like anywhere in the world, refugees are often seen as a threat. Our experience in Canada shows that accepting refugees can be a good thing – if you approach it the right way.
What exactly is going so right in Canada?
We have a concept for providing private support for refugees, for example. Neighbors, families, or even church communities can come together and pool their resources to support a refugee – from language classes to helping them with their shopping. In this way, the refugees no longer feel so isolated, and the Canadians feel like they are making a contribution to societal development.
Do Germans not have this same sentiment?
I have the impression that there’s a lot of enthusiasm here. But there aren’t many opportunities to make use of that enthusiasm, because refugees can’t really become part of a community here.
Have you observed this problem around the world?
Yes. I was at a refugee camp in Jordan recently; 80,000 refugees live there, and they have no opportunities to get involved in the community.
Your vision is a global refugee agency. Is that realistic?
It’s necessary. Currently, there are 22 million refugees, and that number is rising. They’re not just fleeing political persecution anymore; they’re trying to escape the consequences of climate change and many other things. We need to take a global approach. Some countries don’t want to take in any refugees, while others are taking in more than they can handle. The system is in a state of collapse.
You founded the World Refugee Council during your fellowship. Is that the first step on this path?
At the very least, we have a clear mission: We need to start looking for solutions. The fellowship gave me the opportunity to make numerous important contacts. Ministers in the council hold discussions with activists and refugees. To find a solution, everyone needs to work together.
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