FuGeeLa: Refugees in Berlin #6

photo: Ana Santl

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

15 | That’s how many adolescents are reportedly moving into Berliner Dom, probably Berlin’s best address for a refugee shelter. There’ll be a round-the-clock care system, says Berliner Morgenpost.

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

News of violent conflicts in the waiting line just don’t stop, like this one on Monday. However, reports of what happened are usually quite different. The police calls the people in line aggressive, other witnesses blame security guards, who sometimes react overly brutal without reason. A new video by ellevant shows the situation by night, including a police women calling the waiting people “Drecksmenschen”.

In front of the entry busses are parked, where people can warm up, it was just revealed that two of the busses are financed by singer Herbert Grönemeyer.

A new association has been founded to work and help at LaGeSo – “Die Basis“. This is not without controversy, since its founder is a former initiating member of Moabit Hilft, Victoria Baxter, who left due to a conflict with Moabit Hilft’s chairwoman Diana Hennigs. Time will tell if the work of two help organizations will improve or complicate the situation at LaGeSo.

By the way, the registration office will only open for three days over the holidays.

Since Monday, the heated tents on the grounds of LaGeSo are opened during the night for people waiting, which means a demand that has been called for for weeks has finally been met.

What’s the city of Berlin doing?

There are many reasons why Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, called for the resignation of Franz Allert, head of LaGeSo. Berliner Morgenpost assumes party political reasons why social senator Mario Czaja wasn’t released as well: Müller feared an end of Berlin’s reigning grand coalition of his own party, SPD, and Czaja’s CDU.

The mass shelter at former airport Tempelhof still has no showers, people are still shuttled to the indoor pool of Columbiabad. But only until Dec 18th. What happens from then until the shower construction is finished, nobody knows.

Again and again, local district governments struggle against the use of their gyms as shelters. Not only because athletes and students lose their training facilities, but because many district administrations insist there’s more appropriate housing available. The most recent public call comes from Spandau’s mayor, whose district hosts the biggest number of refugees in Berlin. He wants to obtain a resolution to stop having to provide gyms. The whole story is reported by RBB.

Other districts are also expressing doubts concerning the senate’s plans for new, modular shelters – criticized are not only the size and concentration of the new buildings in certain areas (none are planned in Mitte, Schöneberg or Charlottenburg, but many in Marzahn, Pankow and Treptow), but the costs (40.000 per person living there), and the segregation of population and refugees.

Enough space would be available in the former Haus der Statistik at Alexanderplatz. An initiative of trusts and art associations suggested to re-use the house for refugees and creatives in a mix of apartments and artist studios. The 10 floor building has been vacant since 2008 and could house up to 1000 refugees.

Any good news?

Our very own Warm Up 2 past Sunday has been a great success – you donated 819 kg of warm winter clothing as well as 463 Euro benefiting Kreuzberg Hilft! I’ve been writing some words of thanks here.

photo: Ana Santl
photo: Ana Santl

How can you help this week?

On Dec 17th from 19:00, neighborhood network Polly & Bob organizes a fund raiser for aid organization Friedrichshain Hilft. 

On the same day, also at 19:00, benefit concert “Die Welt für Toleranz” is happening at Lido. All proceeds will go to KuB, a consulting and networking organization for refugees, who helps refugees and migrants with the chords of daily life in Berlin. Get tickets here.

At the same time, a benefit concert at Frannz Club presents Sebastian Block, Peer and Tipps für Wilhelm to collect donations for Moabit Hilft.

On Sunday Dec 20th, Kicks 4 Refugees will collect sneakers and winter shoes for refugees at Bikini Haus.

New organizations with new ideas how to support refugees are started every day – Jugend Rettet devotes all its efforts to the rescue at sea. 11 activists between 19 and 26 years from Berlin will acquire a ship next March and start working next June. Learn here how to support them.

Holland Jugend Rettet_Jann Wilken3© Jugend rettet

Connecting Buddies also just started and has the very important goal to connect Berliners and refugees.

Flüchtlinge Willkommen, an initiative to coordinate the subletting of rooms in WGs, started a new donation campaign yesterday to finance the next 50 rooms in shared apartments.

Get Involved

Information and links to initiatives in Berlin can be found on the website of Flüchtlingsrat Berlin and at bürgeraktiv. Register at volunteer planner to start helping at shelters.

This is what happened last week.