re:fugees: Innovation, Opportunities, Integration


Fatuma Musa in "Opportunities for women newcomers"

New at re:publica TEN and already very successful: the re:fugee track. Check out what happened in our focus on migration and integration.

While it was a more of a conference wide topic last year, re:publica TEN focused the subject into its own track titled “re:fugees”. Together with German Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, bpb) we made the conscious decision to not just talk about refugees but also talk directly with them. Part of the track programme included sessions and lightning talks on the history, current state and future of the refugee issue in Germany and Europe. We were particularly interested in finding out what opportunities, possibilities and innovations have already been created to assist refugees and what German politicians need to change in order to encourage these types of initiatives.

The track was opened by with YouTube personality Firas Alshater aka “Zukar” and his keynote "Was Flüchtlinge wirklich wollen" (“What refugees really want”). In his very personal style, he explores what it means to be a refugee in Germany and how he is viewed in his new home. His guiding philosophy is: “All people laugh in the same language”. Through his YouTube videos, he hopes to contribute to wider mutual understandings.

Firas Alshater was followed by Noor Nazrabi, who spoke about how smartphones can be a life-saver for refugees on the move. Katja Evertz and Stefan Martini reported on how the digital world aids voluntary helpers to organise themselves, while Fatuma Musa and Paula Schwarz presented opportunities for female “newcomers”.

While the concept of refugee camps is founded and implemented on the principles of temporality they have quickly turned into long-term and permanent “solutions”. Refugees living in said camps often face inhumane conditions and are confronted with new problems and barriers. The talk “Innovations in Refugee Camps”, hosted by the Global Innovation Gathering (GIG) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) presented innovations and new economies which have sprung up and been subsequently developed in refugee camps.

In order to provide a voice and a stage to the wishes and requests from refugees in Germany, we asked Firas Alshater and Fatuma Musa, as well as Secretary of State Florian Pronold to join the podium discussion “Forderungen an die Politik” (“Political Demands”). The panellists and the audience enjoyed the passionate and clear dialogue which continued even after the session concluded.

The re:fugees track was exciting, diverse and highlighted numerous aspects of this topic. We hope we ingnited a fruitful discussion.

Photo credit: re:publica/Gregor Fischer (CC BY 2.0)