The Syrian civil war has claimed more than 191.000 lives, and it has caused one of the biggest mass flights since the Second World War: more than 9.5 million people are currently seeking refuge; with 6.5 million being internally displaced persons and 3 million staying in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. The young generation currently growing up in these refugee camps or precarious housings will one day be confronted with the enormous task to rebuild the country, which by now has been totally destroyed.
In this difficult situation, the UNHCR, the governments of the host countries, and several aid organisations are striving after a guaranteed access to basic education for Syrian refugee children. However, they cannot grant access to higher education – tens of thousands of Syrian students, who are now refugees, were forced to pause or quit their university programme for an indefinite period of time. This situation will not change for the better soon, as the host countries are already almost unable to cope with the situation. Europe, in turn, has so far only taken in 3% of the refugees.
Recently, the UNHCR urged the international community to propose further solutions granting quick and effective shelter and protection for the refugees through resettlement or other humanitarian measures. The national governments should offer their own programmes for Syrian refugees. Scholarships are one of the measures that the UNHCR explicitly endorses.
To this effect we hereby make an urgent appeal to the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) to set up a scholarship programme enabling Syrian students who were forced to flee to one of the states mentioned above, to continue their studies in Germany. Furthermore, we appeal to the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the universities, and the scientific and political foundations in Germany, which could give crucial support both financially and regarding the implementation of such a programme.
Some universities and academic institutions in the US have already taken measures in this direction and have set up a scholarship programme that allows Syrian refugee students to continue their studies, and which furthermore assures a material and juridical safe status in the US. By implementing a similar programme in Germany, the government would grant practical humanitarian aid for students under existential threat: young people, who might otherwise see no other solution to escape their desperate situation than to risk the perilous passage via the Mediterranean to reach Europe, would have the opportunity to continue their studies in a safe environment. Moreover, Germany would already offer sustainable aid for the reconstruction of Syria later on.