Refugees are fleeing war only to find themselves being abused in European countries. And yet, many who advocate for more wars abroad are also the ones most vehemently against letting immigrants enter Western countries.
Now, Diana Henniges from Moabit Hilft, a German refugee aid initiative, says that there has been a rise in prostitution among young asylum seekers in the country.
Most of the refugees who choose to take this path seem to be disillusioned, experts contend. They are oftentimes involved in these activities after having fled Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan, and most of them are anywhere between 16 and 25 years old.
In many cases, refugees who end up in a life of prostitution are disappointed for not being able to reunite with their families. Others live in constant fear of being deported, which in turn forces them to leave refugee homes or centers to seek other sources of livelihood.
Due to the different backgrounds and realities of those who arrive in Germany, many are young and unaccompanied by a parent or a guardian,
"Turning 18 doesn't necessarily mean that the child has become an adult and this is what authorities forget," Henniges says.
Because many of these young refugees aren't ready for the workforce or allowed to take part in the local economies due to their asylum status or level of education, many are entering the sex trade in order to survive.
Ralf Rötten, the director of the Hilfe für Jungs youth support organization in Berlin, Germany, says his social workers have met with many young refugees who resorted to prostitution. These encounters are important because social workers use the opportunity to advise refugees on AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases.
According to Rötten, most of the refugees who were helped by Hilfe für Jungs are from Syria, Iraq, and other Middle Eastern countries.
Hilfe für Jungs social workers counseled nearly 300 refugees recently, Rötten told reporters.
But as organizations like the ones Henniges and Rötten work for are doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to reaching out to these teens and young adults, many suffer due to lack of funding.
Because most of these aid organizations rely on donations and government funds, they are forced to apply for government support constantly in order to keep up with the demand. As more refugees arrive in Germany due to the ongoing wars abroad, many of these organizations won't be able to keep up with the influx, and many young migrants won't have access to the support and information that could save their lives in the future.
"Some young refugees in Berlin are not in good shape at the moment and much remains to be done for them,” Henniges stated.
As long as conflict takes over the troubled area in the Middle East, Western countries will continue to have to deal with the influx of refugees. If government leaders are serious about helping these asylum seekers and those who were left behind, then they will remember that they must reform local laws so that migrants are able to obtain work permits that would give them an opportunity to seek employment and make a living for themselves instead of depending on bureaucrats for help.
On top of that, it's important to remind European and U.S. leaders that yet another way of helping these refugees is to bring an end to any Western-led conflicts in the regions directly involving Western forces. After all, if what these leaders want is to continue waging wars abroad, they should never expect to see the number of refugees fleeing toward Europe drop.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters