Social worker Tareq Alaows has launched an electoral campaign this week, becoming the first ever Syrian refugee to run for Germany’s parliament.
The 31-year-old announced his candidacy for the Bundestag on Tuesday, nearly six years after he fled from Syria because of the brutal conflict there.
Alaows is hoping to represent the Green Party in Germany’s Bundestag parliament.
“In Germany, [North Rhine-Westphalia] is my home,” Alaows said in a campaign video.
“Right here in my constituency in Oberhausen and Dinslaken was the beginning of my political work,” he added.
The former law student arrived in Germany in 2015 after two months of gruelling travel alongside thousands of other refugees.
He began his first political campaign shortly afterwards, pushing for better housing and social support for refugees like himself after being alarmed by the state of living conditions for migrants in Germany.
Alaows learned German in just six months, later training to become a social worker and offering legal counseling to refugees.
He now hopes to bring that advocacy to a national stage and “be the voice of all refugees” in Germany, home to more than a million refugees and asylum seekers, over half of whom are Syrian.
“As the first Syrian refugee in the Bundestag, I want to give a political voice to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been forced to flee and who live with us,” Alaows was quoted as saying by Deutsche Welle.
The 31-year-old hopes to draw attention to the links between climate change and forced migration by running on the Green Party ticket.
“The climate crisis will further aggravate the situation of people in the global south. This is why a fair climate policy must focus on refugees and migration,” Alaows said in his campaign video, which he posted on Twitter.
The United Nations’ International Organisation for Migration (IOM) predicts that millions of people could become refugees due to climate change by 2050.
Forecasts vary between 25 million and one billion climate refugees, with 200 million being the most frequently cited figure.
Separately, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification has predicted that desertification alone could displace 135 million people by 2045.
Around 26 million people are already forced to flee their homes every year due to natural disasters such as floods and storms, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.
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