German military trains 100 refugees in civilian jobs to help rebuild Syria

© Fabrizio Bensch
The German armed forces have launched a training program for Syrian refugees, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said. Some 100 people are currently mastering skills that could be useful in rebuilding Syria or even helping the Bundeswehr with civilian tasks.

“The idea is that they will go back to Syria one day and help with the reconstruction” once the war is over and control of the country shifts to a more “responsible” government, Von der Leyen said as she announced the special civilian training program by the Bundeswehr.

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In the longer term, the Bundeswehr also wants to play an active role in training Syria’s future military, Von der Leyen told the Frankfurter Allgemeine. But for now, the program is focused on offering skills that can be used in a variety of fields such as technology, medicine and logistics.

Leyen said that Syrian refugees can potentially carry out civilian tasks for the German military, but are not eligible to be Bundeswehr soldiers, Reuters reports.

As Germany approved its largest foreign deployment of troops since losing World War II to aid the US-led anti-ISIS coalition with air reconnaissance, Berlin also began pondering on what to do with over one million mostly Syrian refugees it allowed in the country in 2015.

At the start of the year, Leyen announced that the military is ready to prepare migrants to master some 100 different trades that they might find useful if their German stay is not extended. Syria would need more than just “new stones” to rebuild, she told Kronen Zeitung, adding that the newly trained Syrians would “give the future [of Syria] a jump start.”

In December, German lawmakers approved the deployment of up to 1,200 soldiers to serve in the US-led mission. So far the 134 million euros ($145 million) operation is limited to reconnaissance support operations. The mandate is valid until December 31, 2016.