Situation in german municipalities
Germany is one of the main countries in Europe hosting Syrian refugees. According to Germany's Federal Statistical Office, in 2008 there were just 30,000 Syrian passport holders living in Germany. By 2019 this figure had risen to 770,000. After Turkey and Poland, Syria is now the third-ranking country of origin for migrants in Germany.
German municipalities have coped well with the challenges of providing vital services to so many people arriving in such a short period. Now they are addressing questions that concern the future. First of all this involves issues of integration and respectful coexistence. Secondly, municipalities are interested in advocating for Syrian refugees and helping to improve the situation in the Middle East through their development Engagement.
Sharing expertise with counterparts in the Middle East
German municipalities possess expertise that is needed right now in Syria’s neighbouring countries, and will be needed in the future in Syria itself. Through the programme's partner country component German municipalities are therefore supporting local authorities in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey that are hosting particularly large numbers of refugees. In bilateral project partnerships, the two partner municipalities together develop solutions and ideas for projects on key municipal issues and sustainable development such as waste management, water and energy supply, or youth employment.
German municipalities are home to engaged Syrians
In Germany and other European countries there is an active Syrian community whose members are interested in engaging with the future of their home country and in acquiring knowledge that may in the future be relevant for a peaceful Syria. Regarding the reconstruction of local structures, this includes in particular learning about public administration at the local level as well as democratic structures and processes. It also includes acquiring methodological skills.
The Syrian community is a source of major development potential that can be supported and promoted in host countries such as Germany. Syrian refugees will have a major influence on the future of their country and will help shape it in many different ways. Research indicates that one enabling factor for this is undergoing training and becoming established in the host society.
Transferring local governance expertise to Syrian refugees in Germany
By training Syrian refugees and providing them with insights into local public administration and policy-making, German municipalities are helping them to develop their skills for reconstructing municipal structures in Syria at some point in the future, and to become key partners in development work. They will then smooth the path for joint municipal development cooperation activities.
As part of the programme's Germany component, the Service Agency is supporting German municipalities in training Syrian refugees in local governance. As practitioners, the refugees are enabled to understand how German municipalities of various kinds work, and how their administrations are structured. They learn for instance how democracy and citizen participation work, or get to see how the building and planning offices work. The Service Agency also supports this by providing platforms for sharing lessons learned as well as networking events on the project.