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
560 | Number of the new police staff created to support the integration of refugees, as reported here. These new jobs are part of a first draft of the new master plan created by a consulting firm for the senate of Berlin. The opposition criticizes a lack of ideas for an integration into workplaces, as well as support of education. All in all, the draft seems rather vague and it’s not clear yet, what the consulting firm assignment’s merit was.
How’s the situation at the shelters?
While the situation at the registration office LaGeSo is reportedly getting better, (while the office for payments and older cases still have to get up to speed), the tough conditions at many shelters come to the fore – after revealing the more than dire state of two emergency shelters in gyms in Kreuzberg, the initiative Kreuzberg Hilft got barred from the premises by the company running both shelters. An anonymous volunteer gave Die Welt an interview explaining the hardships of volunteer work, the lack of support and the possible consequences.
An initiative to stop the use of gyms to house refugees, started by several sport associations, came to a halt due to internal conflicts. They’re planning a referendum to urge the senate to free up the gyms for sports.
What’s the government of Berlin doing?
Neukölln’s district mayor, Franziska Giffey, called for more investment in integrating projects in an essay for Tagesspiegel: support for extensive language courses, counseling, and faster decision processes.
Spandau is starting an open discussion forum on refugees, main focus: Sicherheit und Ordnung (safety and order).
There is certainly no lack of alternative ideas to house refugees – Heimat 2 is a project by renowned Graft architects in cooperation with other companies and aims to build so called “living villages” that are not only visually appealing but also serve the purpose of integration.
Any good news?
Today, on the 5th anniversary of the Syria conflict, we share a message of hope stemming from a recent meeting with George Clooney and Amal Clooney and three Syrian refugee families now safe in Germany. The families shared with the Clooney's the terror of fleeing war-ravaged Syria and their hopes for a better future. In turn, George also shared his family’s history of flourishing in America after fleeing Ireland, and Amal her family’s history of leaving war-torn Lebanon for the United Kingdom. We're honored to have organized this meeting. Share this video if you stand #withSyria, IRC, George, and Amal in making #RefugeesWelcome– wherever they are.
Posted by International Rescue Committee on Tuesday, 15 March 2016
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and her husband George visited Berlinale and used the opportunity to meet refugees who resettled in Berlin and talk about their experiences. In the video he stresses how important it is for Western people to remember that many have been refugees in the past as well.
How can you help this week?
Last weekend, right-wing extremists managed to assemble over 3000 people for a “Merkle needs to go” protest in the centre of Berlin – surprisingly they met only about 1500 opponents reports Tagesspiegel. The next one is planned for May 7th, and one can only hope we’ll get more people to protest against it.
Train your demo-skills this Sunday at Carnival Al-Lajiìn_Al-Lajiàat – starting at noon at Platz der Luftbrücke, performers, dancers, flash-mobs and musicians fight for a real change in our society, supporting freedom of movement as a human right. Join them!
Hello Festival is inviting all to celebrate integration form 18th – 20th March 2016 at the Arena Berlin – the program is including conferences, ted talks, a street football tournament, Syrian street food and much more. Info here.
Refugee women at a shelter in Buckow want to celebrate the kurdish new year’s Newroz feast and are looking for a space with a kitchen as well as fincanial and organizational help with grocery shopping.
Refugee Phrase Book, a project collecting important words and phrases in many languages, is hoping for your monetary support and your votes for different awards that will help support this wonderful project.
Kiron, a new university offering education to refugees, is inviting interested refugees and their buddies to a info event this Friday. Info here.
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.