Refugee Report: #21

Zug der Liebe in Berlin, photo by Majka Czapski on Flickr

The situation of refugees has lost some of its urgency since several weeks now, since less and less refugees arrive in Berlin. Not because there are none, but because Europe closed its borders. Here’s a summary of what’s been happening in the last weeks and how you can help.

Number of the week

369 | days ago, Diana Henniges posted an appeal for help in the facebook group of Moabit Hilft because hundreds of people waited for days without shelter, water, food or medical aid in front of LaGeSo in Moabit to register as refugees. This started a wave of help by local volunteers who began by bringing bottles of water, apples, and bread, then shelter, medical help, clothing donations, later german courses and help with the administration. Berlin’s authorities were unable to handle the situation leaving arrivals to live without any aid in the streets, not only in the first days but for months to come. Until today, volunteer organization Moabit Hilft is responsible for the care of dozens every day, supplying clothing and food, information and support.

How’s the situation at the shelters & LaGeSo?

As of this week, the LAF – Landesamt für Flüchtlinge – has taken over all tasks regarding refugees of LaGeSo. 550 full time staff will be responsible for their registration and supply at different locations in Berlin. While the administration now has a new name, the problems persist – waiting times for appointments are long, processes are hard to figure out and often times very complicated. Many politicians of the opposition criticize the new office as nothing more than a new label while that’s supposed to cover-up that the underlying structures remain the same, reports taz.

Monday morning, an unknown person started a fire at the refugee shelter in Berlin Buch, harming six people. While senator of the interior, Frank Henkel, cautioned against rush of judgement, the Flüchtlingsrat Berlin demands to take possible racist motivations serious, reports RBB.

The former Gerhart-Hauptmann-Schule in Kreuzberg’s Ohlauer Straße will become a refugee shelter this month. Four years ago, the school was in the news for being occupied by homeless and refugees, and eventually evicted by the police. While there are still about 12 people occupying one wing of the building, another has been renovated to house about 100 refugees. The decision has been made against the resistance of the CDU who used the topic in their campaign for the upcoming election as Berliner Zeitung reports.

Aid organization Kreuzberg Hilft has released a public statement together with several carriers of refugee shelters, demanding a quick solution of the many urgent problems in the still operated gym-shelters. They’re asking for help in the case of four women well advanced in their pregnancies, as well as two infants and several mentally ill persons. Read the letter here.

What’s the government of Berlin doing?

40 people have taken shelter in front of ICC exhibition halls to protest against their move into another mass shelter after their former shelters have been cleared last week. After six months refugees are entitled to an accommodation with self-sufficiency. After camping outside for a week, all refugees have been placed in shelters as Tagesspiegel reports.

The criminal charges against social senator Maria Czaja have been dropped. More than 40 lawyers have filed charges of assault and coercion last year with regard to his administration and handling of the chaos at LaGeSo, Morgenpost reports.

Any good news?

Yusra Mardini, a Syrian swimmer currently living in Berlin, competes for the Refugee Olympic Athletes Team in Rio right now and has won a 100m butterfly heat, ranking 41st among 45 entrants. Last August, she swam for three hours in the Mediterranean sea with her sister to push the sinking boat carrying 20 other refugees to safety.

How can you help this week?

Bantabaa FoodDealer just started their new crowdfunding project to finance a catering company focussing on educating refugees. Support them here.

Bureaucrazy, an app project founded by four young Syrian refugees has been in the news a lot these past days – it’s designed to help with the often times complicated bureaucratic system in Germany. You can support the crowdfunding hosted by ReDI School of Digital Integration to get the app developed here.

Jugend Rettet has saved almost 1400 people on their first mission in the Mediterranean. They’re looking for people and donations for their coming missions: navigators, marine engineers, doctors, nurses, deckhands, and 5000 Euro, which you can join to raise here.

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.

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