Joint initiative to Protect Refugees and Migrants in Refugee Accommodation Centres
Submitted by: Laura Karcher, Desk Officer, Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Unit “Integration and Diversity”
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
The German Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and UNICEF launched a national, multi-partner initiative in early 2016. This initiative seeks to protect refugees and migrants living in refugee accommodation centres with special focus on vulnerable groups.
The goal of the initiative is to improve the protection and care provided to refugees and migrants living in refugee centres and support their integration. The initiative focuses, in particular, on vulnerable groups, such as children, adolescents, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer persons and persons with disabilities. One major achievement of the initiative is the development of the first nationwide Minimum Standards for the protection of refugees and migrants living in refugee accommodation centres, which were developed in a participatory process that involved over 30 partners.
Nowadays, the minimum standards are complemented by three annexes:
- one on the implementation of the Minimum Standards for LGBTI* refugees and migrants,
- one on their implementation for refugees and migrants with disabilities and
- one on their implementation for refugees and migrants suffering from post-traumatic disorders.
The Minimum Standards serve as guidelines for the development, implementation and monitoring of protection plans in all refugee accommodations. They may also be used as an orientation for the development of protection plans for specific federal states and municipalities.
The German Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth funded protection coordinators in 100 refugee centres participating in the initiative nationwide (2016-2018) to test and implement the minimum standards. The protection coordinators assist accommodation centres in developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the centre’s protection plan. Additionally, UNICEF developed training materials and tools to ensure the effective implementation and monitoring of the standards, which are accessible online.
- Launch of the initiative by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and UNICEF
- The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth provides funding for the initiative
- Large network of national and international partners, among them Save the Children, Plan International and leading German welfare organizations like the Red Cross Germany
- As of 21 August 2019, a new law has been introduced which makes the protection of women and vulnerable person such as children in refugee accommodation centers mandatory. The states are obliged to ensure the protection for vulnerable groups.
Section 44 (2a) Asylum Act: The Laender shall take appropriate measures to ensure the protection of women and vulnerable persons when accommodating persons requesting asylum pursuant to subsection 1.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Objective 2 of the GCR: Enhance refugees self-reliance
The measures listed in the Minimum Standards cover the protection and social participation as well as the development and integration opportunities of all residents in refugee accommodation centres. The Minimum Standards for the Protection of Refugees and Migrants Living in Refugee Centres include the following examples:
- Key principles for developing a site-specific protection plan to prevent and respond to violence in refugee centres – a plan based on a risk-analysis that is developed with the active and meaningful participation of centre staff and residents.
- Key personnel management measures – notably the adherence to a code of conduct – that minimize protection risks and establish clear roles and responsibilities in the implementation of the protection plan in each refugee centre. The measures also outline the centre staff’s obligation to respect diversity, not to discriminate and to do no harm.
- Internal structures include: house rules; designated contact people for residents affected by violence; an internal complaint mechanism; and a method for providing information in relevant languages and through multiple communication channels on the rights of residents and the kinds of support available.
- The need for an external independent complaints and counselling body, and the active involvement of local external partners such as schools and day-care centres.
- Standard procedures for addressing violence and suspected violence that involve a risk
- assessment and immediate protection and care for survivors. The procedures also call for cooperation with local external partners, including youth and welfare offices and the police when appropriate.
- Human and protective conditions that ensure building safety, hygiene and privacy and that make certain that child-friendly spaces and services exist.
- Monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the protection plan.
The Minimum Standards underwent a general review in 2017, which resulted in the inclusion of the experiences of the members, protection coordinators in refugee centres and the residents of refugee accommodation centres. As part of these consultations on the Minimum Standards, Plan International Germany held a number of focus-group discussions and workshops in refugee centres to involve residents in the review process.
- Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) - Germany
- Independent Commissioner for Child Sexual Abuse Issues (Unabhängiger Beauftragter für Fragen des sexuellen Kindesmissbrauchs)
- Save the Children
- Plan International
- German Red Cross (Deutsches Rotes Kreuz)
- Der Paritätische Gesamtverband
- Deutscher Caritasverband
- German Institute for Human Rights (Deutsches Institut für Menschenrechte)
- German Children and Youth Foundation (Deutsche Kinder- und Jugendstiftung)
- German Forum for Crime Prevention (Deutsches Forum für Kriminalprävention)
- Association of Women’s Shelters (Frauenhauskoordinierung e.V.)
- KOK - German NGO network against trafficking in human beings (KOK Bundesweiter Koordinierungskreis gegen Menschenhandel e.V.)
- Bundesweite Arbeitgsgemeinschaft der psychosozialen Zentren für Flüchtlinge und Folteropfer (Baff)
- The Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (Lesben- und Schwulenverband in Deutschland e. V.)
37 partners belong to the network of the initiative. Not all at them are listed here. For a complete list please consult the website.
Challenges and how they were overcome
- Within the German federal system, the competency for the accommodation of refugees lies at the Länder level and the level of the municipalities.
- The minimum standards are non-binding.
How they were overcome:
- Minimum standards (Guidelines) are developed for protecting refugees and migrants in refugee centres. At the same time the protection coordinators strengthen the capacities of service providers to implement and monitor these standards. Similarly, partners of the initiative disseminate the Minimum standards widely disseminated for example at regional conferences or online.
- The multi-partner structure of the Initiative involving national and international partners proved to be fruitful and helpful in overcoming challenges: the success of the Initiative is based on close cooperation, close exchanges of expertise, knowledge and work experience from the operational to the policy level.
Results of the Good Practice
- Over 25.000 refugees in refugee accommodation centres have benefit from the measures 2016 – 2018
- Child friendly spaces exist in about 100 refugee accommodation centres
- The development and implementation of site-specific protection plans to prevent and to respond to violence in refugee centres took place in about 100 refugee accommodation centres
- The Minimum Standards serve as guidance to the Länder and municipalities that are competent and responsible for the reception, accommodation and care of refugees.
- Protection plans from the Länder and municipalities refer to the Minimum Standards as best practice.
The funding of projects within the joint initiative has been expanded until end 2020.
As mode of example: since 2019 the German Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth funds nationwide multipliers for the protection of refugees and migrants in refugee accommodation centres as well as a project to develop a Monitoring and Evaluation of the implementation of the protection plan.