Migrant Crisis in Europe

Social Entrepreneurs attend Lex Mundi Annual Conference in Berlin

One of the social challenges of our time is the migration crisis, particularly in Europe. Germany took in more than 1 million refugees last year, primarily from Syria and Iraq, and this influx creates significant demands on the German infrastructure as well as raises questions and challenges around culture and integration.

During the Lex Mundi Annual Conference in Berlin, the Foundation hosted a lunch discussion for its Board of Directors to meet with local social entrepreneurs. The lunch was designed to better understand the refugee situation on the ground and to hear examples of how local social entrepreneurs are working to find solutions. The two organizations that shared their time and stories with us were:
Francoise Greve from Sea-Watch e.V., a non-profit organization that rescues refugees from boats in distress at sea. Many thousands of refugees, seeking protection from war and persecution, have died while crossing the sea in unsuitable and overcrowded boats without skippers, navigation or safety equipment. Sea-Watch has purchased old ships exclusively with private money and then outfitted the boats with a crew of volunteers consisting of skippers, medics and sea rescuers. By the end of 2015, Sea-Watch had rescued approximately 2,000 people. Recently, they have raised funds for additional vessels in the Aegean Sea as well as new search areas near Malta, Italy and Libya.

Esther Bernsen from Über den Tellerrand, a social enterprise that uses food and cooking as a mechanism for cultural exchange. Two years ago, UdT began publishing recipes and stories by refugees and offering cooking classes led by refugees from different countries. Their mission is to promote an active exchange among refugees and the local population, giving refugees the opportunity to build a network of friends and giving Europeans a better understanding of the culture and lives of the refugees. The food-based programs are the basis for mutual interest, respect and friendship. The Board was also joined by Moder Sheek, one of the organization’s chefs who is a refugee from Syria. Mr. Sheek shared his personal story of living through war in Aleppo, Syria and then his three-year journey before settling in Germany.

The event led to a fascinating discussion that allowed attendees to learn how social entrepreneurs are involved in addressing this one important issue — from rescue to integration and everywhere in between. The group also discussed the ways that lawyers around the world might play a role in supporting the efforts of those social entrepreneurs that are assisting refugees around the world.

If you or your firm are doing any pro bono work related to the migrant/refugee crisis, please reply to the newsletter and let us know.

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Find guidance on immigration regulations and NGO/charitable organization registration requirements in bordering countries, as well as information on how to navigate restrictions. This is a living document. Additional resources will be added in the days and weeks ahead. Check back frequently for more information.