Press release
02.09.16

Hertie School survey: Berlin refugees trust German citizens, institutions

A new survey of Berlin refugees by the Hertie School reveals a high level of trust in German institutions and citizens.

  • High trust in German institutions and citizens, despite logistical issues.
  • Survey indicates they feel safe and are keen to find work.
  • Fellow refugees are main source of information, not government or NGOs.
  • Little idea of the role NGOs play, despite major support to government efforts.

Download the full survey Refugees in Berlin 2015/16: Perceptions of basic public service delivery here.

Berlin, 2 September 2016 – A new survey of Berlin refugees by the Hertie School of Governance reveals a high level of trust in German institutions and citizens. A majority of refugees also say they feel safe and would like to have more information about the job market.

The survey, Refugees in Berlin 2015/16: Perceptions of basic public service delivery, was carried out by Hertie School students, staff, and refugees participating in spring 2016 courses, under the academic direction of Prof. Dr. Gerhard Hammerschmid and Anca Oprisor. The survey is based on interviews with 351 asylum seekers in Berlin from Afghanistan, Albania, Iraq, Kosovo and Syria.

Despite criticism of how the Berlin government handled refugees in autumn 2015, 87% of those surveyed say they trust the police, 81% the justice and court system and 85% German citizens. While only 20% are satisfied with their interaction with government institutions, the picture is quite different on a personal level. 43% percent say officials are competent, 42% say they are friendly and 52% believe they are frequently overwhelmed. This may indicate that a lack of administrative resources hampers the officials’ ability to provide timely, efficient services and to adequately assess refugees’ needs.

Respondents are most positive about services relating to personal safety (60%). Their biggest concern a lack of information they need to enter the job market (75%) and many say they would like better access to German courses (50%). 

Over 70% say other refugees are their most important source of information on public services, rather than the government or NGOs, indicating that government institutions could possibly harness this network to in their efforts to support refugees. One obstacle, however, could be the refugees’ general mistrust of each other – around 70% said they did not trust other refugees. And regardless of their country of origin, 59% feel there is a growing inequality in how different refugee groups are handled. That number rises to 73% for respondents from Afghanistan.

Results point to a surprisingly low visibility for NGOs, despite the fact that NGOs have greatly supported government efforts. Around half of all respondents assess NGOs as unimportant across all service areas, and a third are altogether unable to describe their interaction with them, although those who could were positive. The authors interpret this as an indication that refugees hardly differentiate between intergovernmental and non-governmental entities. The cooperation between the two should be further improved.

Download the full survey Refugees in Berlin 2015/16: Perceptions of basic public service delivery here.