Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, MEP speaking in the European Parliament on 7 November 2023/Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana

Refugees as labour or scapegoats?


Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, MEP comments on the ongoing debate across Europe about migrants, which she argues, ignores the benefits that refugees can bring to the labour market and fuels racist sentiments against Africans, among others

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The tone that was struck in the run-up to the migration summit and can still be heard from many quarters is very worrying. A narrative that only sees migration as a problem is fuelling racist and discriminatory sentiments.

Moreover, such a problem-orientated view of migration is a gamble on possible solutions. In most EU countries, refugees are perceived as a burden because right-wing extremist parties use xenophobic slogans to turn refugees into scapegoats and capitalise on this politically.

Labour is desperately needed in many sectors in Germany. German business leaders are travelling abroad to recruit skilled workers or advertising in foreign trade journals. Many people who make their way to Europe or Germany are well educated and want to work in order to earn a living. Many others simply want to utilise their skills and continue their education.

Keeping refugees out of the labour market, ignoring their qualifications and motivation and thus condemning them to inactivity is wrong. The repeated one-sided narrative that migrants only come to Germany to receive social benefits is pure populism. Nobody leaves their home country without a good reason. The longer these people are kept out of the labour market, the longer they have to be supported with taxpayers’ money.

On a human and economic level, the only right thing to do is to provide refugees with a decent life. People who can make a living on their own: locally and for future generations.

It remains to be seen whether the current EU migration and asylum pact will ease the situation.  The EU is shirking its responsibility by shifting the issue of migration to third countries. To countries where human rights are not their strong point, such as Tunisia, Libya etc… Such agreements will neither stop migration nor prevent human traffickers from seeking new routes and extracting even more money from the pockets of these desperate people. Solidarity and empathy have disappeared from the European Union values and are being trampled underfoot.

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About Dr Herzberger-Fofana, MEP:

Dr Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana was elected to the European Parliament on 26 May 2019 as a candidate of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (Alliance 90/The Greens) and has since been campaigning for a democratic, humane Europe as an MEP.

She is First Vice-Chair of the Committee on Development (DEVE) and the Delegation for Relations with the Pan-African Parliament (DPAP), Co-President of the European Parliament’s Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) and a member of the delegation to the Cariforum-EU Parliamentary Committee (DCAR), where ‘Cariforum’ stands for the countries of the Caribbean region.

She is also a substitute in the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM), as well as a substitute in the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (DACP) – ACP standing for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

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