FuGeeLa: Refugees in Berlin #12

#LetThemStay sanctuary rally in Melbourne, Australia  – Photo: Takver on Flickr
#LetThemStay sanctuary rally in Melbourne, Australia – Photo: Takver on Flickr

Every week we hear news about the situation of refugees in Berlin. Here’s a summary of what’s been happening in the last days and how you can help. This is the English version of an article in cooperation with Mit Vergnügen, hier kannst du ihn auf Deutsch lesen.

Number of the week

21.000 | That’s how many Euros the Staatsoper Berlin collected during the past weeks for the benefit of Moabit Hilft, who invested it in medicine, food, rain coats, blankets and train tickets.

How’s the situation at the registration office, LaGeSo?

The senate states, that the registration of refugees is happening faster than ever, only few unregistered are supposedly left, mainly those with private accommodation.

Aid organization Moabit Hilft is still subject to threats and harassment, after the reported death of a refugee turned out to be a hoax. Many other Berlin based organizations, among them Pro Asyl and Flüchtlingsrat Berlin, have thus declared their support for Moabit Hilft in an open statement.

Many people have made suggestions how to improve the processes at LaGeSo. Anja Lüthy, professor for management, has been an outspoken volunteer in Moabit for months, and has now explained how she thinks the LaGeSo would be working better. Her suggestions include digitalization, efficient processing of requests, more staff and a shift system. The problem: until now, the senate didn’t care to listen to her advice.

What’s the government of Berlin doing?

The proposed deal of the city of Berlin with a hotel chain which came to light last week is still prompting many questions. Tagesspiegel reports that a Berlin businessman with a rather dubious background initiated the negotiations to accommodate about 5000 refugees in the city’s hotels. The deal is criticized due to the high costs per bed and the questionable longevity of such accommodation.

Unsurprisingly, this is not the only case where entrepreneurs are quick to cash in on the current situation. Berliner Zeitung reports that more and more landlords misuse their apartments to house refugees. The reason: Renting a house to people in need makes a lot more money than putting it on the public rental market, since LaGeSo pays up to 50 Euro per person and day.

Reason for the urgency in finding new accommodation facilities are the bad conditions in the buildings that are currently used as shelters. Aid organization Kreuzberg hilft is now heavily criticizing the conditions in two former gyms, operated by Akzente-Sozial UG: not only are the residents still sleeping on camp beds, but there are neither wall partitions to guarantee a minimum of privacy, nor enough nutritious food or hygienic articles, which the shelter has to provide.

Contradicting the still high motivation to support refugees, Berlin is not free of racist attacks against them. Morgenpost published a list of attacks on refugee shelters in 2015, numbers grew by 45% in comparison to 2014. Most of them were cases of damages, however, three of them were arson attacks. Luckily, no ones been hurt. Alas, in most cases suspects couldn’t be identified.

Berlin’s universities are intensifying their offers for refugees, since it’s still quite hard for them to resume their studies. Humboldt University now offers consultations and guest student seats for refugees, and Universität der Künste offers a free class for refugees in arts and design. Berlin School of Economics and Law is holding a special information event for refugees.

Any good news?

Last week, Germany’s government adopted a new law for asylum seekers that impedes family reunions. An unusual way to bypass this inhumane restriction is a so called “Verpflichtungserklärung” by a German citizen for a foreign person or family, which means committing to cover all accruing costs. The organization Flüchtlingspaten Syrien is focussing on exactly that: finding sponsors, collecting donations, organizing guides and support to enable more Syrians to flee the war. Using this niche, they were able to save more than 40 families, and are continuing to support those willing, creating good news every week (like for the family below). RBB now attended one family reunion in this video.

To support them, you don’t need to sign a declaration just yet, but they need monetary donations to support the sponsors, as well as guides for the arriving families. They’ll hold a meeting for potential guides this Thursday.

Familiennachzug macht glücklich – hier ist das Beweisfoto ;-) Morgens noch an Heckenschützen und Milizen vorbei durch…

Posted by Flüchtlingspaten Syrien on Sunday, 7 February 2016

How can you help this week?

Moabit Hilft is offering new German classes and is looking for teachers. If you’re interested, SAP is holding a free online class for future German language teachers.

Furthermore, Moabit Hilft is looking for donations of hygienic products as well as warm winter jackets and kids’ pants. The full list is here.

The Malteser shelter at the former C&A departmentstore in Neukölln is looking for donations to color their walls.

Spandau Hilft is looking for support at the BAMF, the office for migration and refugees.

#MyEscape is a new movie documenting the escape routes of refugees using their smartphone videos. It’s broadcasted on Thursday 10th at 22:30 on WDR and online.

Get Involved

Information and links to initiatives in Berlin can be found on the websites of Flüchtlingsrat Berlin and at bürgeraktiv. Jule Müller compiled a very helpful document answering all your questions about how to help in Berlin. Until now, it’s only available in German.

This is what happened last week.

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