airlines fight poverty
When thinking about airlines, people often only think about things such as comfort, price and convenience. Many forget to consider the different ways their favorite airlines make a difference to people around the world. Below lists how five of the world’s top airlines fight poverty.

How 5 Global Airlines Fight Poverty

  1. Qatar Airways: Travelers voted Qatar Airways the best airline in the world in 2019. The airline fights poverty by supporting and donating to charity projects in over 43 countries around the globe. One of these is Educate A Child. Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar founded this initiative to provide children facing extreme poverty with opportunities for education. Since 2013, Qatar Airways’ customers and employees raised $2.3 million for the initiative. The airline matches the funds that customers donate onboard. Educate A Child works in countries around the world, from Uganda to Lebanon and Haiti.
  2. British Airways (BA): This airline fights poverty in partnership with Comic Relief through the Flying Start program. The airline raised more than 23 million pounds since the program’s inception in June 2010. Customers raise funds when they donate via the BA website or onboard the airlines. British Airways staff also gather donations via onboard collections as well as by participating in individual or group challenges such as skydiving, mountain climbing and cycling. Through Flying Start, BA helped more than 620,000 children and youth across the U.K. and other countries such as Ghana, South Africa, Jamaica and India.
  3. JetBlue: Travelers voted JetBlue the best airline in the U.S. The airline worked with the Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring (DREAM) Project since 2008 to provide equal opportunity to high-quality education to children in the Dominican Republic. In partnership with DREAM, JetBlue can reach 6,000 youth each year.Since 2006, JetBlue also partnered with First Book to give brand new books to children who would otherwise not be able to afford books or other learning material. The airline successfully distributed more than 430,000 new books to children in local U.S. communities as well as around the world. In 2016, when JetBlue launched its inaugural flight to Quito, Ecuador, its donation of 500 books to the Working Boys’ Center marked the first time since 2008 that the center received new books.
  4. Etihad Airways: The national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) worked with Magic Bus to support children and youth between the ages of 12 and 18 in India. In December 2016, a group of volunteers from the airline’s staff worked in Mumbai and constructed a sports field, a weatherproof outdoor shelter as well as a vegetable garden. Since its founding 20 years ago, Magic Bus helped more than 1 million children across 22 states in India as well as children in Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh to gain skills and knowledge necessary to move out of poverty.
  5. Lufthansa: The German airline won the best European airline award in 2019. Lufthansa Group and Lufthansa employees formed an aid organization called the Help Alliance in 1999. It is through this alliance that the airline fights poverty. Currently, it manages 50 projects worldwide. The donations alone fund these programs. The Help Alliance constructed iThemba Primary School in Cape Town, South Africa where more than 200 students studied since January 2018. When the project finishes, 700 students will have the chance to receive a quality education. This is important as more than 2,000 children in Cape Town do not get the chance to attend school. In Brazil, the Broadening Horizons program enables 30 disadvantaged youth from around Sao Paulo Airport to receive vocational training as bakers or confectioners. The youth undergo six months of training after which most of them find jobs in one of the many catering companies, hospitals and hotels in the region.

Beyond moving people from one place to another, top airlines in the world give back to the communities around them. Customers can choose to travel with airlines that fight poverty and make a small donation to help them in their quest.

Sophia N. Wanyonyi
Photo: Pixabay

Mein Horrendous Facts about Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler, one of the most notorious figures in human history, became the leader (Führer), of the German Nazi Party in 1921 and the Chancellor in 1933. His fascist and lawless power led to the onset of World War II and the death of at least 11 million people. Here are 10 horrendous facts about Adolf Hitler and his rule.

10 Horrendous Facts About Adolf Hitler

  1.  As the leader of the Nazi Party, Hitler gave numerous politically charged speeches during which he blamed Germany’s Jewish population for the nation’s turmoil following World War I. He asserted that German Jews sought to control the Weimar Republic, the post-war government. He also claimed that they had influenced the Weimar Republic to accept the Treaty of Versailles which significantly limited the nation’s military power and demanded $33 billion in reparations for World War I. During a 1922 speech in Munich, Hitler proclaimed “There are only two possibilities, either victory of the Aryan or annihilation of the Aryan and the victory of the Jew.”
  2. While in prison for the failed coup d’état of the Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler wrote the first volume of Mein Kampf. Democrats, communists and internationalists are all targets in this narrative, but it targeted the Jews most bitterly. He declared that the highest racial purity was that of the German people, making them the master race and thus responsible for the elimination of all Jewish people. In this book, Hitler’s proclamations about Jews overtly shifted from those of deportation to murder. Further, he wrote extensively in support of the dismantling of democracy. Before the start of World War II, people purchased more than five million copies.
  3. In 1933, the same year that Hitler assumed total power, concentration camps arose in Germany. Suspected enemies of the Nazi Party faced imprisonment at the camps, the first of which was Dachau. Political opponents, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals comprised the initial target population. Following 1938, Hitler’s forces filled the camps with Jewish prisoners, simply because they were Jews.
  4. Hitler outlawed youth groups like the Boy Scouts and required all non-Jewish boys in Germany to join his Hitler Youth Organization. Through this group, the Nazi Party held the power to condition over 90 percent of Germany’s young men. The boys faced military-like training in weaponry and survival while fostering an almost religious devotion to Hitler. Following years of indoctrination, boys at the age of 17 had to serve in the military.
  5. In 1935, Hitler enacted the Nuremberg Laws which stripped Jewish populations in Germany of their citizenship and banned marriage between Jews and Germans. Many consider these laws the foundation on which Hitler built the ensuing internment and murder of the German Jews. The passing of the Nuremberg Laws legalized the persecution of Jewish people as a part of Hitler’s Final Solution.
  6. On the nights of November 9 and 10 in 1938, German mobs took to the streets to attack Jews, destroying their homes and workplaces as well as burning synagogues. This event, called Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass, led to the murder of 96 Jews and the burning of between 1,000 and 2,000 places of worship. Hitler and his administration both introduced the propaganda leading to this riot and offered encouragement for the mobs to continue their harassment. The administration later held Jews financially responsible for the damages incurred during these events.
  7. In early 1939, the Nazi Party secretly began the Child Euthanasia Program under which it murdered disabled children by lethal drug overdoses and starvation. Later that year, the program, shifting to the name Operation T4, extended to target disabled adults who faced murder by gas chamber. Hitler authorized all phases of the Nazi Party’s euthanasia efforts in order to “cleanse” Germany’s Aryan race, leading to the deaths of at least 250,000 physically and mentally disabled people. The infamous use of gas chambers at Hitler’s extermination camps originates from this program.
  8. Following the German invasion of Poland in 1939, Hitler began a campaign of anti-Jewish propaganda in order to concentrate Poland’s Jewish populations into areas called ghettos. Nazis propagated the idea that Jews carried diseases like typhus and thus required isolation. Ghettos suffered overcrowding and were cold, unsanitary and largely lacked in terms of food.
  9. To facilitate the Final Solution, Hitler authorized the implementation of Jewish extermination camps in 1941. Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau comprised the six camps intended only for the sole purpose of murder. Between 1942 and 1943, Hitler’s Nazi Party attempted to destroy these camps in order to conceal its abhorrent actions from Allied forces.
  10. With the loss inevitable to the Allied forces, Hitler and his frenzied party began recruiting thousands of young men, even those below the 17-year-old age requirement, to fight losing battles. Recruiters offered the children chocolates and candy in exchange for their lives. Thousands died in combat from lack of experience and training while others’ States executed them for refusing to fight.

Hitler’s Holocaust enabled the mass murder of at least 6 million European Jews. Another 5 million targeted groups perished alongside in concentration camps’ gas chambers or at the hands of Hitler’s barbaric forces. As demonstrated by the 10 horrendous facts about Adolf Hitler, people should never forget Nazi Germany’s actions so that they may never be repeated.

 – Bhavya Girotra
Photo: Flickr

The Marshall Plan
In 1947, Europe was still feeling World War II’s devastation. Rebuilding was not going as fast as necessary and people of every country were feeling the impacts. Economies had nearly come to a complete halt in most countries and there were up to 11 million refugees that needed to find jobs, homes and food. The United States was the only superpower in the world that could offer any assistance to the people of Europe because the war did not entirely influence its industries. The reason for the implementation of the Marshall Plan was to help people rebuild their homes and industries, as well as provide security and an economic boost to the U.S.

The Marshall Plan’s Origins

The Marshall Plan, formerly called the European Recovery Program, was an initiative proposed by the United States Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, in 1947. The plan aimed to accomplish several things. First, it was to provide aid to kickstart European countries whose economies the war destroyed. The second was to promote free trade that would not only benefit those countries but the United States as well. The third was to contain the spread of communism that was sweeping over Eastern Europe.

The Marshall plan gave aid to 15 countries; the United Kingdom, West Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Ireland, Portugal and Norway. President Harry Truman signed the plan into law on April 3, 1948; it brought aid to Europe in the form of machinery, fuel, food and money.

Aid for the Netherlands

World War II hit the Netherlands hard when the German forces occupied the country from 1940-1945. The war heavily damaged its infrastructure, agriculture and housing and they were in desperate need of repair. To rebuild its infrastructure, The Marshall Plan gave half a million dollars to the cement industry to repair roads, bridges and ports. The port in Rotterdam was particularly important because the country uses it to import goods. The Plan provided more funds to build housing for 9.5 million people living in the Netherlands. Fixing the agriculture of the Netherlands required the country to modernize its practices. It spent funds on new farming equipment and the treatment and repairing of the soil destroyed by years of fighting. In total, the Netherlands received $1.127 billion to rebuild its country.

Aid for Germany

Germany split in two shortly after World War II ended. The Soviet Union controlled East Germany while the United States and its allies controlled West Germany. West Germany received $1.4 billion in Marshall Plan aid although the war heavily impacted it. The whole of Germany had an aggressive bombing campaign to destroy its cities and invading armies from the west and east devastated the country’s communities. Twelve percent of the aid to West Germany went towards housing the nearly eight million refugees that had settled there after the war. These houses were necessary with a population of 67.9 million. Coal was another industry that was in desperate need; 40 percent of funding went towards this so that Germany could fuel its industries and factories. The funds from the Marshall Plan helped the German people find homes, jobs and food.

Aid for the UK

German bombings on British industrial sites had a terrible impact on the production of British goods, particularly on its southern cities. By 1948, the United Kingdom had mostly recovered from the war, but it needed to address more. While the U.K. was able to rebuild, the country was deep in debt and was having a challenging time feeding its people and keeping its industries going. Because of its 1948 population of 50 million people and its contribution to the war effort, the U.K. received the largest sum from the Marshall Plan, $3.2 billion. These funds provided the country with financial stability and allowed it to balance out its economy. While the aid did not go towards helping the U.K.’s economy, it benefited from the food and fuel brought in and the breathing room necessary to stabilize its country.

In total, the United States spent over $13 billion in aid for the 15 countries. These countries were able to provide food, fuel, housing and stability for their people during a devastating time thanks to the Marshall Plan. The average GDP of the nations that received aid increased from their prewar levels by 35 percent, and overall industrial production rose by 40 percent. The U.S. was also a beneficiary of the economic success of the European nations engaging in trade. In the decade following the end of the Marshall Plan in 1951, the GDP of the United States had nearly doubled. The Marshall Plan shows the benefits of providing foreign aid that can help not only those receiving but those giving as well.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Germany
Germany is a developed country that offers decent living conditions for its citizens. The average life expectancy is 81 years, which aligns with Europe’s average life expectancy. While there are numerous factors that play a role in determining life expectancy, Germany makes a tremendous effort to manipulate these factors and extend the average. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Germany.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Germany

  1. Education and Skills: When examining the 10 facts about life expectancy in Germany, it is important to consider schooling. To benefit its citizens, Germany features a highly respected dual-apprenticeship system in its high schools. Students receive both general and occupation-specific education, indirectly improving job quality and earning potential. Eighty-seven percent of German adults between the ages of 25 and 64 have completed upper-secondary education, which is well above the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) determined 78 percent average.
  2. Jobs and Earnings: Job security and salaries often determine the living conditions of families, making it an important factor in determining life expectancy. Seventy-five percent of Germans between the ages of 15 and 64 have a paid job. Only 1.6 percent of Germany’s labor force do not have employment, which is less than the OECD’s average of 1.8 percent. The government recognizes the importance of income and takes a stand by protecting its labor force. In 2015, Germany established a statutory minimum wage. Collective bargaining has diminished, allowing financial-security for low-income workers.
  3. Environment: The German government has made a public effort to make public transportation more efficient by investing in cleaner trains and hybrid buses in order to reduce emissions. The government has also acted to modify heating units such as wood-burning stoves. In 2010, Germany mandated the refitting of these units with particulate filters by 2024 if emissions do not reduce by then.
  4. Social Connection: While it seems odd to include social connections in a list of 10 facts about life expectancy in Germany, people’s social network plays a large role in guiding their life. In Germany, the FAMILIENwerkSTADT project aids migrant families by easing them through the process of assimilation. In this program, childcare facilities focus on providing children with better access to education. Immigrant families are less isolated through such programs. Ninety percent of Germans are confident that they know someone outside of immediate family that they can count on in bad times, similar to the OECD average of 89 percent.
  5. Health Status: Germany has a life expectancy of 81 percent, slightly above the OECD average of 80 percent. The government is able to provide equal health care for all of its citizens by recognizing those with disabilities. Any workers with health issues have the right to receive aid from their employers such as a modified workplace, special help and part-time opportunities. Germany has spent a GDP of nearly 0.3 percent on disabled people, which is much higher than in other OECD countries.
  6. Work-Life Balance: The government encourages flexible schedules because of the importance of family commitments. In 2015, Germany instituted the Erfolgsfaktor Familie (Family as a Success Factor) to achieve work-life balance. This program advocated for flexi-time for all employees as well as more affordable childcare. Later that same year, Germany established a parental reform in which parents receive money for taking more time off. Currently, full-time Germans are able to spend 65 percent of their day (15.6 hours) for personal care, compared to the OECD average of 15 percent.
  7. Civic Engagement: When people are more satisfied, their life expectancy increases. The German government has a “strong youth policy infrastructure,” in which it gives younger generations higher importance. This means to allow people to feel involved in their community and be much happier. In recent German elections, estimates determined voter turnout as 76 percent, which was much higher than the OECD average of 68 percent.
  8. Housing: Clean and safe living conditions determine whether people can have healthy lives. German households have an average of 1.8 people per room, which is in line with the OECD standard. The government launched a program to expand housing in 1993 and it modified 1.1 million units. In fact, 99.8 percent of every household unit in Germany has access to a private indoor flushing toilet.
  9. Personal Security: Another factor that determines life expectancy is personal security. While organized crime was a major hazard in the streets of Germany, the police have conducted a major crackdown on Middle Eastern crime families. Before the police crackdown occurred, “The streets are [were] actually regarded as a separate territory. Outsiders are [were] physically assaulted, robbed and harassed.” The homicide rate in Germany is at 0.5, whereas the average of the OECD 3.7.
  10. Cardiovascular Disease: As the leading cause of death in Germany, cardiovascular disease takes a large toll on the population. In fact, cardiovascular disease caused 92 percent of deaths in 2018 for people 65 and older. In order to draw attention to current research, the government gave the German Heart Center of the State of Bavaria membership in the German Center for Cardiovascular Research. The German Heart Center of the State of Bavaria is the leading center in Germany for therapeutic interventions and treatments. By giving the Center membership in the German Center for Cardiovascular Research, it will receive more funding and opportunities to continue its research.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Germany go well beyond a person’s living conditions, health, happiness or education. In fact, the German government has demonstrated its role in ensuring that people are living their lives to the fullest.

– Haarika Gurivireddygari
Photo: Flickr

history of the Berlin Blockade
On June 24, 1948, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) cut off land access and power to West Berlin. This act hoped to discredit the U.S. by stranding 2.5 million war-weary people in the American sector without food. American attempts to breach the blockade might have resulted in war, so the Truman Administration circumvented the USSR by airlifting supplies into the city for almost a year. It was a major success. The history of the Berlin Blockade displayed the power of emergency aid and set a precedent for countless American airlift operations.

The Blockade Begins

Following World War II, Germany and Berlin split into Eastern and Western entities. England, France and the U.S. controlled the Western sectors, while the USSR administered the East. Unfortunately, the entire city of Berlin was in East Germany. The Western powers signaled West German autonomy in 1948 by instituting currency reform in their sectors.

The Soviets feared an independent Germany as a threat to its nation’s security. Dr. Armin Grunbacher adds that Soviet leaders wanted to force America to relinquish control of Berlin and discredit them as the Cold War began. The USSR increasingly provoked the West to try and achieve its goals as June 1948 approached. Tensions especially grew during the April Crisis.

A U.S. Army historical report recounts that Soviet provocations led all parties closer to war. On April 5, 1948, a patrolling Soviet jet collided with a British passenger aircraft over Germany and killed everyone on board. The Soviets finally blockaded West Berlin in June 1948, sending American leaders into a panic. Officials questioned if America should risk war with military incursions into Berlin or if there was a better option.

The Airlift

West Berliners desperately required supplies. Residents rationed food, but some still starved. Soviet ration cards enticed 20,000 individuals to go to East Berlin.

President Truman curtailed initial plans by West Germany’s military administrator, General Lucius Clay, to forcefully supply the city with an armed convoy. It was inefficient and could potentially start a major war. Instead, the Truman Administration ordered Clay to gather American transport aircrafts from around the world for an upcoming humanitarian aid operation. General Curtis LeMay ran Operation Vittles and started airlifting 5,000 tons of supplies every day into West Berlin starting on July 1, 1948.

The Airlift’s Success

The U.S. needed to airlift at least 2,000 tons of aid daily to feed everyone. By the end of the airlift, American planes delivered 13,000 tons every day to West Berliners. The breadth of planes utilized and supplies dropped still makes the Berlin Airlift the largest operation of its kind. The success of the aid humiliated the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, and the blockade ended on May 12, 1949.

The U.S. not only saved the lives of millions of people but displayed its immense generosity. Dr. Grunbacher says that the history of the Berlin Blockade showed “the manifested expression of U.S. technical superiority and willingness to defend the ‘Free World.’”

Later Operations

Many airlifts have followed the example of Operation Vittles. A report from the U.S. Air Force accounts for 560 such humanitarian operations between 1947 and 1994. America used emergency assistance to respond to both natural disasters and humanitarian crises in this period.

For example, the 1977 Turkish earthquake killed 3,600 people and left 50,000 homeless. The USAF was quick to respond and airlifted 606 tons of tents, blankets and food to accommodate those affected. The U.S. also participated in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide Relief, nicknamed Operation Support Hope. U.S. planes deposited 3,600 tons of supplies at refugee camps in neighboring nations for fleeing Rwandan refugees.

The history of the Berlin Blockade resonated as late as 2014 when the U.S. airlifted food and water to Yazidi Christians trapped on Mt. Sinjar in Iraq. The Islamic State had assaulted surrounding villages in the area and massacred members of the ethnoreligious minority. American intervention bought the Yazidis vital time. More than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of water dropped sustained Yazidis until most escaped the mountain.

The history of the Berlin Blockade displayed the potential for emergency aid to assist millions of people and avoid violent conflict. It also showed that the reputation of the U.S. benefits from humanitarian operations. The precedent set in 1948 spawns new operations every year and it shows no sign of stopping.

– Sean Galli
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

mRNA VaccinesVaccinations have been one of the most successful disease prevention tools the world has ever seen to date; the rise of vaccinations and a decrease in disease mortality go hand in hand. The World Health Organization is cited stating that vaccinations prevent about six million deaths worldwide every year. That number could increase if a new type of vaccine, an mRNA vaccine, proves effective.

Some of the more impoverished nations of the world encounter a variety of setbacks when trying to implement vaccinations on a wide scale. Some populations simply cannot afford vaccines while others living in rural areas may not have access or transportation to reach a medical facility. Further, others still may live in unsanitary environments that allow pathogens to easily thrive and spread throughout their communities. Fortunately, scientists in Germany have been testing mRNA vaccines that could have the possibility of eliminating some of these issues.

Testing mRNA Vaccines

Last year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partnered with CureVac and BioNTech (two biotechnology corporations) to experiment with new ways to make vaccines. These new vaccines utilize the body’s naturally administered mRNA, which are the molecules that turn genetic information into proteins. In 2018, the companies found positive results while testing these vaccines on both small and large animals.

Later that year, mRNA vaccines designed to combat rabies began phase I of their testing on human participants. The testing took place in Germany and involved 130 participants who had not yet received a rabies vaccine in their lifetime. Then the results of the mRNA vaccine were compared with the results of another treatment.

“The first study participant enrolled in this rabies clinical trial is a significant milestone for CureVac, and allows the company to demonstrate its ability to trigger an immune response in vaccine naïve populations, which is different from vaccines just boosting an already existing immune response such as a flu vaccination,” explained Dan Menichella, CureVac’s CEO.

Implications of mRNA Vaccines

Though the study is not expected to be fully completed until 2021, researchers are finding that mRNA vaccines may be potentially more durable than standard versions of preventative vaccines.

If that is proven to be the case, the implications of how these new vaccines could help the world’s poor are huge. The mRNA vaccines would be able to be developed quickly—quickly enough, it is speculated, to respond to grave infectious disease outbreaks like Ebola. They would also be considerably cheaper to manufacture. And while most vaccination plants cannot be renovated or repurposed to produce other vaccines, only one mRNA vaccine plant could create multiple vaccines that target different diseases.

While mRNA vaccines still have a long way to go in the way of human testing and production, they seem to be off to a good start. It may one day completely revolutionize the way developing countries—or any country, for that matter—vaccinate. And although the medical field is a complicated one, one thing is for certain: CureVac and BioNTech are companies everyone should keep their eyes on for future breakthroughs.

– Haley Hiday
Photo: Flickr

Syrian Refugees in Germany

What began as a peaceful political uprising in 2011 has become one of the most devastating on-going civil wars of the 21st century. The war has contributed to the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, leaving Syrian refugees in Germany hopeful for improved living conditions. The Syrian Civil War has not only devastated the country and its people but also neighboring nations, creating a regional disruption.

Syria’s fall is a global failure, and the consequences the war has brought with it have been difficult for other countries to manage. The Syrian Civil War forced countries to establish new policies to address the influx of Syrian refugees. Syrians have been escaping the bombings and repression since the outbreak of the war in 2011. However, in 2015, Europe was under more pressure when over one million refugees arrived through dangerous sea travel. Some Member States have closed their borders, and others have implemented new welcoming policies.

Current Living Conditions

Angela Merkel’s Germany welcomed thousands of Syrian refugees with its open door policy. German crowds awaited the arrival of Syrian refugees in Munich from Austria in 2015. However, today this enthusiasm contends with the rise of populism and right wing parties, affecting the living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany. Amidst refugee settlement, anti-immigration views have become more and more popular among Germans. This forces the government to desperately establish effective integration policies to reduce tensions.

The living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany are very difficult. They are hospitalized as needed after arriving from extremely life-threatening conditions. Later, the refugees receive camp assignments. Due to the large number of refugee arrivals, Germany had to build emergency camps. These camps lack quality infrastructure and necessary equipment. Some refugees are assigned to shelters such as Tempelhof, where they sleep in a small bed among hundreds of others in one hall.

Due to integration laws that assign family members to different cities, some refugees must endure family separation. Moreover, Germany suspended the family reunification policy between 2016 and 2018 for refugees awaiting their status approval. According to the German government, Germany embassies received 44,736 family reunification applications in 2018, but only granted 1,500 applications.

Paperwork Holds Up the Process

Unfortunately, the living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany become even more difficult once paper work begins. It could take up to eighteen months to be recognized as an asylum seeker. In most cities, refugees cannot join integration programs if they are not asylum seekers. According to the German law, asylum is a given right to anyone fleeing political persecution. However, the process of being granted refugee status based on the Asylum Act and the Residence Act can be lengthy.

These acts entitle refugees to integration programs, language classes and employment. This is not the reality for refugees who wait years of the approval of their status. Systematic hurdles can stop refugees from learning German, continuing their education or pursuing a job. Therefore, many refugees lose hope and enter black market jobs or seek distressing pathways.

A Brighter Future

Nonetheless, German policies, under the guidance of Merkel, continue to strive for effective integration. Overall refugee unemployment dropped sharply from 50.5 percent to 40.5 percent in mid-2018, based on the Institute for Employment Research. The study also concludes half of the refugee population will be employed by 2020. This is an optimistic advance considering the language barrier in addition to the fact that 80 percent of refugees who arrived in 2015 did not acquire a university degree. This is achievable because the settlement of refugees is improving along with the overall living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany.

Eventually, refugees will be able to leave crowded shelters and move into apartments with their families. By improving  integration efforts and paperwork processes, Syrian refugees in Germany can gain asylum status and attain their legal rights.

Njoud Mashouka
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Germany
The world knows Germany, a Western European nation, for its rich history spanning back two millennia, famous cities, such as Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt and a festive culture that includes famous events, like Oktoberfest. However, the living conditions in Germany may surprise those who have not lived there.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Germany

  1. Most German cities have a strong sense of order, influenced by a strict and efficient bureaucracy. People keep cities clean due to sanitary rules. There are many regulations concerning everyday life, especially in small cities. For example, Swabia, a region of Germany, has laws for cleaning that go back to 1492. Swabia has the tradition of Kehrwoche, which translates to sweep week and involves residents taking up the responsibility of cleaning their homes and neighborhoods.
  2. PM2.5 describes a measurement of particulate matter in the air that can cause damage to the lungs. The PM2.5 in Germany is “14 mg per cubic meter” which is higher than the average. The particulate can come from “power generation, domestic heating and in vehicle engines.” Germany does not use significant amounts of renewable energy, so the use of coal is causing a high amount of PM2.5 to be present. Germany’s water quality, however, is great with “91% of people [saying] they satisfied” with their water quality.
  3. A sense of community tends to be strong for the average German citizen, and a survey by the OECD found that “90% of [Germans] believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need.” This strong support for others is an integral part of German culture.
  4. The average German household has a “relatively high average household disposable income per capita,” and the families are able to spend more on wants over needs. This is due to the fact that the average German worker has higher job security and earnings than in other countries.
  5. In general, children have high-quality living conditions. “However, 31.7% of German children live in homes with self-reported poor environmental conditions,” which means that these children are missing many things that their peers are able to enjoy, such as homes with outdoor “areas to play…winter clothing…seeing a film once a month.” Though children in upper-class families tend to have overall high-quality lives, people tend to bully their low socio-economic counterparts more frequently, who often have a lower quality of life at home.
  6. The life expectancy in Germany is approximately 81 years, which is close to the European average of 80 years. “Life expectancy for women is 84 years, compared with 79 for men.” This shows improvement over time since the life expectancy in 2002 was 81 years for women and 75 years for men. Easy access to good health care and high food and water security may contribute to this.
  7. For education, 86.3 percent of German adult workers have finished an upper secondary education. Adults have literacy and numeracy skills that are similar to other European nations. Also, “about 75% of people aged 15 to 64” have employment in Germany.
  8. The positive living conditions of the average citizen are drastically better than asylum seekers, who are living in horribly dirty conditions in refugee centers. They do not have access to clean bathrooms and reside in overcrowded bedrooms. Some fear that Germany is keeping the conditions unlivable in order to deter refugees from seeking asylum in the country.
  9. Rural towns in Germany are rife with unemployment, and a majority of citizens are moving to cities in search of jobs. The main types of jobs for a rural town, such as farming, are starting to lose value. According to the Federal Statistical Office, “more and more people are moving into the towns as new jobs in our knowledge society become available.”
  10. The population is aging, with more people dying than being born. The baby boomer generation, which includes 50 to 60-year-olds, are starting to retire, but there are not adequate numbers of youth to fill the growing vacancy in the average workplace. A study found that “Germany will need at least 260,000 immigrants a year…to meet increasing demand for labour.”

Germany has a culture that focuses on efficiency, cleanliness and high living conditions. The population is falling, but the life expectancy is rising, while many educated Germans are able to join the growing knowledge sector in many major cities. Though the situation in the refugee centers is grim, Germany is processing many refugees every day to join the millions of people who enjoy the living conditions in Germany.

– Anish Kelkar
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty In Germany
Known worldwide as the country with the greatest beer, variety of bread and as the world’s biggest car producer, Germany has a fluctuating poverty issue. Total Germany’s population is estimated to be 82 million people. Today, Germany’s poverty has reached a record high since the reunification of Western and Eastern Germany. In the text below, top 10 facts about poverty in Germany are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty In Germany

  1. Possibly the most important fact about poverty in Germany is that county’s poverty rate is breaking new negative records. Germany’s poverty is at its highest since its 1990 reunification of East and West Germany. Over 12.5 million Germans are classified as poor.
  2. The most recent record of Germany’s poverty line, recorded in 2015, is at 15.7 percent. In comparison, the poverty line was at 14 percent in 2006.
  3. After the reunification of Germany, the economy was negatively affected. The first obstacle was rebuilding businesses from East Germany, which entailed ownership right dilemmas. In 1992, the Property Law was passed. This law supported compensation opposed to restitution of properties. Renovation of infrastructure was another problem that needed to be addressed. Energy, transport and communications were required. With the lack of business production, the GDP has struggled with a drastic decrease in the monetary value. This made a great impact on the country.
  4. There is a significant gap between the poor and rich of Germany population. The top 20 percent of the population earn four times more than the people from the bottom 20 percent.
  5. The current average household net income per capita is equivalent to $33,652 a year. Germany is a member of OECD countries that comprise 36 world’s developed countries. The average disposable income per capita of OECD member countries is $30,563 a year on average, which means German is far better than the average in this regard.
  6. Data from October 2018 indicate that Germany’s unemployment rate was at 3.3 percent. This is a decrease from the July when the unemployment rate was at 3.4 percent.
  7. Much of the population that lives in low-class environments have jobs but are referred to as the “working poor”. These people are qualified to work certain jobs but are not getting paid enough to withstand decent living conditions. Social benefits assist with topping up their income.
  8. Germany’s welfare system has three forms of support: Unemployment Benefit, Unemployment Benefit II and Income support. The Unemployment Benefit is considered a contributory benefit that is paid for a limited amount of time. Unemployment Benefit II is a non-contributory benefit available to able body adults whilst in the process of seeking for employment. Lastly, Income support pays those that are not capable of working but reside with someone that is capable of working.
  9. As of 2015, there were 2.8 million children and young people living in Germany with the risk of poverty. This number represents 19.7 percent of children under the age of 18. Migrant families that came in Germany played a major role in the increase of these figures. Families with two or more children and those of migrant backgrounds are at the greatest risk for poverty than others.
  10. Tropical diseases such as dengue fever, sleeping sickness and worm diseases are considered poverty-related diseases that inhabit Germany’s rural areas.

Germany’s poverty in 2015 was at 15.7 percent, which is not a small percent for such a developed country. In an attempt to resolve and maintain poverty issues, nongovernmental organization and government are implementing different strategies. The goal is to practically decrease the statistics of the German poverty population in the forthcoming months to years.

These top 10 facts about poverty in Germany show us that even the developed countries have their issues and people that are in dire need of assistance.

– Kayla Sellers
Photo: Flickr

Five Countries That Give the Largest Foreign AidAccording to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) report, in 2016, 30 countries in Development Assistance Committee (DAC) contributed a total of $142.6 billion as financial assistance to poorer countries, with the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and France giving the largest foreign aid.

On average, the United States’ government has given approximately one percent of its federal budget — about $34 billion — each year over the past decade to countries in need of foreign aid.

Out of the aid amounts from all donor countries, U.S. foreign aid ranked at the top of the list. Non-DAC countries, like China, are also responsible for a significant part of the total aid amount.

Each year, developing countries receive aid in tens of billions of dollars from governments in other countries. From obtaining diplomatic approval to business access, this aid can serve various purposes for the donor countries. From agriculture, to education and public health, recipient countries use aid towards a wide variety of issues and projects.

Here is a rundown of the five countries that offered the largest foreign aid and how that aid was spent by its intended nations. Due to the lack of detailed information for 2017 fiscal year, the list will be based on previous-year statistics.

1. China

A surprise to many, the winner on the “aid list” is China rather than the United States. As a non-DAC country, China has not officially disclosed its aid information; however, in a recent publication, researchers from AidData at William & Mary claimed that during the year between 2000 and 2014, China offered $350 billion-worth of aid to 140 countries and territories, sponsoring more than 4000 projects – the largest foreign aid program in the world.

In 2009, China’s total financial commitment to development aid reached a whopping $69.9 billion, two times that of the U.S. foreign aid in the same year.

A large chunk of China’s aid is categorized by AidData as “Other Official Flows,” indicating that though counted as foreign aid, these financial assistances are primarily intended for commercial access rather than for development and welfare.

Top recipients of Chinese aid are largely members of the One Belt One Road Initiative, a program by President Xi that aims to reinforce trading routes across continents.

As a result, almost half of the aid was spent on infrastructure sectors including energy generation and supply, transportation, storage and communication. The spending on agriculture, forestry and fishing only took up 3 percent of the aid.

2. The United States

From 2002, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has gradually boosted the total foreign aid budget to a steady amount that rests around $32 billion. With the Department of State and USAID as the nation’s main donors, the U.S. government distributed — not counting fiscal worth of military assistance — $34 billion official development aid (ODA) to over 100 foreign governments during the 2016 fiscal year.

Such an amount makes the U.S. the largest foreign aid donor among DAC countries.

Israel, Afghanistan and Egypt are the largest recipients of the U.S. foreign aid, receiving $3.10 billion, $1.51 billion and $1.46 billion of assistance, respectively. More than one-third of the U.S. budget is spent on long-term projects that promote economic growth and public health programs.

About 23 percent of such aid is used as humanitarian aid, and aims to fund short-term disaster relief programs.

3. Germany

With a volume of $24.67 billion in 2016, Germany’s foreign aid ranked the second largest in OECD’s report. Compared to 2015, Germany’s aid budget experienced an impressive 36.1 percent increase, making Germany’s ODA to gross national income (GNI) ratio hit the 0.7 percent mark.

An important factor in accounting for this major boost is the wide-ranging social benefits provided to the large influx of refugees.

Starting from 2016, the German government reclassified this in-house spending on refugee assistance as international development aid, aiming to hit United Nations’ 0.7 percent ODA/GNI target.

4. The United Kingdom

Before it was made a legal obligation by the U.N., the U.K. hit the 0.7 percent ODA/GNI mark in 2013 and has since maintained this ratio very well.

In fiscal year 2016, the U.K. spent a total of $18.01 billion in development aid, thus becoming the third largest foreign aid donor among DAC countries.

Pakistan, Ethiopia and Afghanistan each received more than $300 million in U.K. aid, and Nigeria, Syria, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Tanzania all received more than $200 million. The aid is largely used for humanitarian programs and other crisis-relief projects in nations close to the European Union.

5. Japan

As the third-largest economy in the world, Japan contributes the fourth-largest ODA among DAC countries. Though Japan ranked high on the list of total aid volume, its $10.37 billion aid in fiscal year 2016 merely took up 0.2 percent of its GNI compared to the United States’ criticized 0.18 percent.

As a close tie to China in overall economy, Japan also engages in competition with China for potential markets in developing countries by giving out development aid. While China desires more of natural resources in recipient countries of its aid, Japan wants cheap land and labor so that it can compete with the world’s leading manufacturing industry in China.

Humanitarian Aid is on the Rise

As OECD’s report indicates, the world’s total development aid is on the rise. This trend is so prominent that DAC Chair Charlotte Petri Gornitzka expressed her delight in the ever-increasing trend and the generous contributions of the largest foreign aid donors.

With an increasing amount of ODA being spent on short-term humanitarian and refugee aid, Gornitzka urged countries to also focus on long-term development programs.

Regardless of the purposes of aids, this healthy trend of increasing aid showcases the collective efforts of the world in reaching the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals

– Chaorong Wang

Photo: Google