Conflict prevention and constructive conflict management in refugee accommodation

“Everyone has the right to a conflict-free life.”

Given the number of refugees who have arrived in Germany since 2014/15, it is to no surprise that problems and conflicts of all kinds arise and develop further. Refugee shelters are particularly affected. There are different conflict constellations and parties that need to be considered:

  • Between refugees themselves
  • Between refugees and the staff – securities and social workers, etc.
  • Between full-time employees and volunteers – especially the helper groups
  • Between the accommodations and the neighborhood – there especially the problem of the right-wing movement.

Objective of the project:

The aim is to offer a low-threshold service for conflict management and constructive discussion, which aims to maintain social peace. It should serve to promote the social climate, so that the feeling of security is strengthened and in and around the accommodation, refugees and neighbours live together in more harmony. In society there are always incidents that people go out on the street less in the evening because they are afraid of what is “lurking around the next corner”. This is not only the case on the street, but also inside the accommodation. One aim of the service is the early detection and prevention of conflict escalations and the constructive handling of conflicts by means of mediation.

The aim in brief:

  • Contribution to maintaining social peace
  • Promotion of the social climate (safety experience)
  • Low-threshold offers for conflict management / constructive conversation – experience of security in the social environment of and within refugee accommodation
  • Early detection and prevention of conflict escalations and constructive handling of conflicts through mediation

The service:

The offer includes the following:

  • the determination of the need for mediation / conflict management in the above mentioned conflict constellations
  • Developing and implementing customized services – also with regard to the different constellations
  • Training of employees regarding conflict management in order to raise their awareness and to end conflicts early before they arise
  • Joint workshops for employees and socially competent refugees to analyze needs and deal with low-threshold conflicts
  • Establishment of a mediator pool


A report by the Bonn International Center for Conversion (bicc) – funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in cooperation with other cooperation partners – shows an analysis of the state of research on conflicts and their processing in the “context of the accommodation of refugees in German municipalities.” “Scientific studies, documents from practical observation and literature on social movements with regard to their questions and results on conflict constellations and approaches to processing on a microsocial level” were analyzed. (See Accommodation of Refugees in German Municipalities: Conflict Mediation and Local Participation, Flucht: Research and Transfer, July 2017)

Result from the report:

In the results of the report, attention is drawn to the fact that the restrictions and what the refugees are allowed to do during their asylum procedure creates enormous potential for conflict, as they are relatively free during the escape and then theirs as soon as they have reached the asylum machinery Unfolding is extremely restricted. In addition, there is the problem of asylum, in the case of unequal treatment in the asylum procedure – so to speak, when two people in their own country have more or less experienced the same thing. This creates perceived injustices, which then spark further conflicts. Another aspect is the exercise of power by some staff, which can be a problem for refugees.

Report from own experience:

In his full-time job, Mr. Heine worked mostly in an advisory capacity with refugees. Among other things, he also experienced conflict potentials that were brought to him. He found out from different sides, be it from the refugee personally, or from volunteer or full-time staff or support, that it was definitely in the various above-mentioned Conflict constellations that there were many points of frictions.

Result of the experience:

These points of friction can be very easily resolved mediatively. The clients also told Mr. Heine that they would be willing to do something about it.