Community service for refugees in Germany to promote integration? | News | DW | 25.08.2018
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Community service for refugees in Germany to promote integration?

Members of Angela Merkel's conservatives say a year of community service would help integrate refugees. The proposal comes against the backdrop of a larger debate about reinstating mandatory service for Germans.

A year of community service would help refugees and asylum-seekers integrate and promote their acceptance by the public, the general secretary of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives said Saturday.

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) ignited nationwide debate earlier this month when it brought up the idea of reinstating mandatory military service or a year of community service.

Read more: Germans debate return of military conscription and service for men and women

CDU General Secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told Funke Mediengruppe newspapers and the French newspaper Ouest-France that many conservative party members support reinstating some form of mandatory community service in order to promote social and national cohesion.

"And they also assume that the service is not only for German nationals, but also for refugees and asylum-seekers, who are of legal age and live in Germany," Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

"If refugees complete such a year, either voluntarily or mandatorily, that helps with their integration in the country and society. And among the population it would increase acceptance that refugees live among us," she said.

Read more: Refugees integrating into German jobs market, says agency

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Two classes of immigrants in Germany

Opposition to military conscription

Germany has taken in more than a million refugees and asylum-seekers since 2015, leading to both public backlash and concerns about integration.

Military conscription was scrapped in 2011 after Berlin opted for a professionalized army. Prior to this decision, all young men were obliged to either serve in the nation's military, the Bundeswehr, or perform an alternative service for a limited period of time in civilian areas such as emergency management or medical care.

German officials have already voiced opposition to reinstating military conscription, arguing it is unnecessary and costly for a modern, professional army.

Kramp-Karrenbauer said the CDU would discuss four models for reinstating a community service year for men and women at the party conference in December.

cw/cmk (AFP, KNA, epd, dpa, Reuters)

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