The Elders


Elders in Berlin: recognising German leadership on refugees

In September 2016, Kofi Annan, Martti Ahtisaari and Lakhdar Brahimi visited Germany to launch a new report on refugees and migration. They heard a range of perspectives on the country's response to the crisis, from Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal President Joachim Gauck and business leaders, to civil society groups, volunteers and refugees themselves.

In September 2016, Kofi Annan, Martti Ahtisaari and Lakhdar Brahimi visited Germany to launch a new report on refugees and migration. During their visit, they heard a selection of perspectives on the country's response to the crisis, and met refugees at the Marienfelde resettlement centre in Berlin.

Kofi Annan and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier addressed the press ahead of their discussions. They spoke about the most recent developments in Syria as well as the broader issues of refugees and migration as covered in The Elders’ new report.

The Elders, accompanied by Richard Branson, discussed the challenges of dealing with refugees and migrants in their discussions with Minister Steinmeier. They welcomed Germany’s leadership in responding to the surge in arrivals of refugees over the past year.

At discussions on the lawn of the Villa Borsig, the Foreign Ministry’s official guest house in Berlin, The Elders and Minister Steinmeier also addressed key geopolitical issues including Ukraine, Syria, US-Russia cooperation, Iran-Saudi tensions, Turkey and refugees, and arms control.

The report calls for a better coordinated response mechanisms to large flows of people; enhanced assistance to major refugee-hosting countries; increased resettlement opportunities; and respect for human rights and protection. Find out more 

In Berlin, the Elders visited the Marienfelde refugee centre run by the Internationaler Bund charity. They met residents from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Eritrea, Nigeria and Serbia and listened to their stories. These highlighted the global nature of refugee and migration flows, while their experiences and challenges with work, housing and integration in Germany emphasised the need for a comprehensive approach by public authorities.

During the discussions, the Elders heard many accounts of the traumatic journeys across the Mediterranean which refugees were forced to take. This reinforced The Elders’ belief that alternative pathways are crucial and that the world cannot decry people smugglers without providing a credible alternative.

The Elders concluded their visit with a meeting with Federal President Gauck to commend German leadership on the refugee response, and discuss how all countries should respond to the rising tide of xenophobia and populism by asserting the values of tolerance, solidarity and respect for human rights.

Photos: 1- Gordon Welters / The Elders | 2-4 Michael Gottschalk / | 5- Ilias Bartolini/Flickr | 6-7 Gordon Welters / The Elders | 8-Bundesregierung / Jesco Denzel

Our Work | Refugees and Migration

With more people on the move today than ever before, we believe in a more coherent and coordinated international response, where responsibility is shared and the vulnerable are protected.


Please read our moderation policy before commenting

  • All comments posted on will be moderated before publication.
  • In making comments, please be constructive and treat others with respect.
  • Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, inflammatory statements or accusations, personal attacks, discriminatory or abusive language will not be posted.
  • Links: Please do link to other relevant sites and articles to enrich the debate. Please do not link to inappropriate or offensive websites or use signature links in your post.
The Elders are independent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

Sign up to receive monthly newsletters from The Elders.

We will occasionally send you other special updates and news, but we'll never share your email address with third parties.

Visit the archive to see our past newsletters.

The Elders website uses cookies. Click here to accept the Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy when visiting this site.