The decision of the German government to receive an overall 20.000 Syrian refugees in the framework of three successive Humanitarian Admission Programmes has received broad support across the German political spectrum and from a large section of the general public. Since the beginning of arrivals under the programme late 2013, the reception and settlement of new arrivals has lead to the engagement of various new actors and has required the cooperation and extension of reception capacities in particular on the local level.
Since May 2014, the Stiftung Heimat geben in Ogelsbeuren, a municipality in the German federal state Baden-Würrtemberg, provides accommodation and welcome to a group of arrivals under these admission programmes. With the aim of extending post-arrival services beyond basic reception and integration support and towards a culture of welcome where refugees can find a ‘home’ (Heimat geben), the foundation in cooperation with the district office, Caritas Migration Services, the municipality and diocese, has built a network of volunteers, local services and refugee support projects who jointly welcome new arrivals from Syria. For the first six months following their arrival in Germany, Syrian refugees are accommodated in the foundation’s premises where, besides language tuition and support in finding more permanent accommodation in the surrounding area, new arrivals can make their first social contacts and have a protected start in the community.
With the aim to better understand the journey and needs of Syrian refugees, Pater Alfred Tönnis (directorate of the foundation) and Lukas Hoffmann have produced a documentary film capturing the life of Syrian refugees in Egypt and Lebanon in 2013/14 as well as the development of the project in Oggelsbeuren. The film ‘Flucht und Heimat’ (Escape and Home) gives voice to refugees themselves, experts in the field in Egypt and Lebanon, as well as staff, volunteers and new arrivals in Oggelsberen and portrays the work and cooperation of the many actors and stakeholders involved in the realization of the project. The documentary is now available with English subtitles (see below).