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One of the strategies that is often put forward as a possible solution to the current refugee crisis is to tackle the problems in the countries where the people are staying so that they don’t need to move on in the first place. Besides combatting poverty, this also means improving the living conditions of those people who – while they have been forced to flee their homes to escape war and persecution – would prefer not to travel to Europe but stay as close as possible to their homeland. More often than not, this involves focusing on supposedly mundane matters such as hygiene in the refugee camps which literally appear overnight. The “Ruhrgebiet Refugee Camp” [Flüchtlingsdorf Ruhrgebiet] is run by the Caritas Flüchtlingshilfe Essen, a charity organisation set up to help refugees, and is already doing an excellent job. What they needed, however, was a vacuum truck to improve hygiene at the camp. REMONDIS was able to help out here with a donation.
On 17 May, Thorsten Feldt, a managing director at REMONDIS, presented Caritas Flüchtlingshilfe Essen (CFE) with a vacuum truck that was fully functional and in a very good condition. Its destination was the “Ruhrgebiet Refugee Camp” in the autonomous region of Kurdistan in the north of Iraq. At the beginning of 2015, CFE began setting up container homes for Yazidi refugee families on a developed area of land. Since then, CFE have delivered over 100 container homes thanks to donations from local authorities, firms and private individuals from the Ruhr region. These and a further approx. 1,700 container homes from other organisations now give the refugees a place where they can live in decent conditions. CFE has also organised two bazaars for tradespeople (with over 60 shops) to provide work for those living in the camp. Moreover, it has been collaborating with the German company GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) to set up two schools and a small hospital, with all the furnishings having been supplied by CFE. Construction work is currently being carried out on a youth centre, a vocational training centre and a small advisory centre for people traumatised by their experiences. What’s more, a sports ground is being built so that the more than 5,000 children and adolescents living there have somewhere to do sport.
“Besides helping the refugees living here in Germany
to integrate into society and find jobs by supporting
apprenticeship initiatives, we are really pleased to be able to make this small but important contribution towards improving living conditions on the ground in Iraq.”
Thorsten Feldt, REMONDIS Managing Director
What had been missing, however, was a vacuum truck that was robust enough to cope with the dusty conditions there. REMONDIS has now donated a twenty-tonne vacuum truck so that faecal matter and wastewater can be removed – a vital task to maintain hygiene levels at the camp. The camp management team had put in a request for such a truck many times and CFE found a sympathetic ear at REMONDIS. The Mayor of Essen, Thomas Kufen, who had also been championing this cause and had travelled to Iraq with CFE last year, attended the event in Essen to see the truck being officially handed over. It is already being used at the refugee camp having made its own way there via Turkey – the only time it wasn’t being driven was when it took the ferry from Trieste to Mersin.