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German arms exports and flight and migration from Africa. Dialogue forum with Rex Osa, Natasha A. Kelly and Nicolai Röschert


Info   Language: German and English; Entrance: donation


Every year, the German arms industry earns millions by selling weapons and thereby fuels many conflicts worldwide. This aspect is not adequately discussed in the debate about people that flee their home countries because of violent conflicts. 

For refugee activist Rex Osa, it is obvious that “A country that produces instruments of violence and fosters unjust economic relations will harvest refugees.” Especially in African countries, wars and armed conflicts are reasons for flight. But war and conflict also have underlying economical causes. These economic root causes do not play a role in the current strategies of the EU and the German government to face the reasons for flight and migration. Instead, refugees themselves are fought with military means instead of reasons of flight. This only intensifies the problem.

Rex Osa comments: “Germany actively fuels the conflicts with arms supply and combat missions within the NATO alliance, at the same time they react offensive on the flight movement. The export of German weaponry has doubled in 2014 compared to the previous year, to 1,823 billion euro. In 2011, the German government authorized the export of 200 Leopard-2-tanks from the company Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann to Saudi-Arabia, which is well known for its human rights violations. This is only one example of how German weaponry enters into conflict regions and perpetuates them.”

In the context of our project “Why we are here? African perspectives on flight and migration”, Rex Osa will discuss with Natasha A. Kelly and Nicolai Röschert how German arms export is linked to flight and migration from Africa, which direct economical and indirect geo-strategic interests stand behind them and who profits from arms trade. Osa campaigns a political and economic change here in Germany and, based on his political engagement in the past years, draws the conclusion: “We did fight a long time for refugees to be accepted. Now we have an anti-racist movement in Germany, volunteers bring clothes, food and stand up for better humanitarian conditions for refugees. But it is still difficult to bring the protests on a political level and to fight those weapon exports since the German government sees the problems solely in the home countries of the refugees.”

Rex Osa works for the Bewegungsstiftung. He came to Germany in 2005 because he was persecuted in Nigeria for political reasons. As an asylum seeker, he experienced mistrust and denial instead of protection. But he did not accept the role of a marginalized refugee; instead, he joined the self-organized refugee forum “The Voice” and engaged in the elucidation of the death of Oury Jalloh, who burned in police custody in 2005. In 2010, he initiated the “Break Isolation” Campaign together with “The Voice” which not only contributed to the empowerment of refugees but also revealed the importance of refugee self-organization. He gives workshops on deportation and represented the movement of refugees in Germany at several international e events, for example the International Summit of Migrants and Refugees in New York 2013, the World Social Forum in South Africa 2014 and many other events in Europe and worldwide. 

Natasha A. Kelly holds a PhD title in communication studies and sociology. She is a former research assistant and lecturer at the Centre for transdisciplinary Gender Studies, Humboldt University Berlin. She is a writer and journalist and has been active in the anti-racist movement for many years. In May 2012, she was elected to the State Advisory Council for Integration and Migration of the Berlin Senate as the representative of the European Union.

Nicolai Röschert is the long-term vice-chair person of AfricAvenir Berlin. He works as research assistant at the German Bundestag.

More information (in German):

„Deutschland heizt mit die Konflikte an“ Interview mit Rex Osa in der jungen welt.

„Ihre Fabriken verursachen Flucht“ Interview mit Rex Osa in der taz.

With the kind support of the Landesstelle für Entwicklungszusammenarbeit and Engagement Global.

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