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How the German Government Raises Awareness About the Dangers of People Traffickers

Last week, the German government launched their RumoursAboutGermany.info website in English, French and Arabic. It forms part of an international campaign to stop Afghan and Pakistan refugees being manipulated by people trafficking gangs.

The initiative is part of the #RumoursAboutGermany public awareness campaign which has already been running in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2015. The main aim is to debunk the lies that people traffickers tell vulnerable refugees who are fleeing from violence and devastation.

The new website, which takes information from what refugees have told media outlets, lists the seven biggest lies that people smugglers tell their victims. The most popular mistruth that is told to encourage people to pay money to be smuggled out of the country? “The ship for the crossing is very big, it even has a pool and a cinema.” Obviously, getting smuggled out of the country is not akin to going on a five-star cruise across the Caribbean.

Other lies prospective refugees are told include: “Germany has reserved 800,000 slots for Afghan refugees alone.” The website confirms that no such slots exist; each refugee application is considered on its own merits. “Every refugee receives a welcome payment of 2,000 euros” and “Germany grants a house to every refugee,” are more fibs extolled by the trafficking gangs which are simply not the case.  

Another debunked myth that appears on the site is that “if you don’t like it in Germany, they’ll just give you a visa for Canada” which is apparently “straight nonsense”. There is no deal of that nature between Germany and Canada.

So, what is it actually like to be trafficked? According to the campaign, human traffickers only use rickety old boats that are unseaworthy and are therefore likely to flounder in the harsh conditions of the Mediterranean. There’s a lot of truth in that: UN agencies have confirmed that at least 5,000 people died attempting to cross the Mediterranean last year alone. That’s up from the year before, when around 3,700 people passed away making the same traitorous voyage.

It’s no secret that making that unpredictable journey is fraught with danger, hazards and uncertainty. Which really does give an impression of the harrowing violence and destruction the refugees are trying so desperately to escape.

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