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
1400 | That’s how many attended a public meeting regarding the expansion of the refugee shelters at former Tempelhof airport last week. And while politicians repeatedly explained all buildings are supposed to be temporary until 2019 max, the audience didn’t believe them, Süddeutsche Zeitung reports. Georg Classen of Flüchtlingsrat Berlin stated that this shelter is Berlin’s biggest, worst and most expensive refugee shelter, and everything but temporary. The senate admitted that none of the people who moved in last Autumn, was able to move into a better accommodation by now. The house of representatives will vote on the change of the law tomorrow.
Meanwhile, more reports on the insupportable conditions are coming up including low quality food, insufficient hygienic facilities and lack of privacy.
How’s the situation at the registration office, LaGeSo?
This morning, volunteers reported that a Syrian refugee died of cardiac arrest. He was taken in by Dirk V., who published a protocol of the night this morning on Facebook. Reportedly the 24 year old, who has queued for days and days in the cold outside of LaGeSo, was sick with chills and fever and taken to the hospital, where he later died. There are no further details yet, police says they’re investigating the case. Update the case still hasn’t been confirmed by officials, the volunteer who reported the case doesn’t respond, and thus, doubts are raised whether this report was true.
Update: RBB reports that the volunteer admitted he made up the story.
The bad news from Berlin’s worst office just don’t stop. This week, social senator Czaja had to admit new failures in reaction to reports of people who are waiting for their benefits since months. Shelter managers took their residents’ stories to the media since many of them don’t even have money to buy food and risk starving, writes DIE ZEIT. LaGeSo released a statement that they’re implementing a better, less bureaucratic and faster way to pay the benefits in cooperation with shelter managers.
Now, the first case of bribing has been confirmed. With rumors circulating since weeks, LaGeSo now had to admit one of their translators accepted money from refugees to let them go ahead in line.
What’s the government of Berlin doing?
The struggle to find better suited accommodation is ongoing. In the midst of the discussion, Tagesspiegel reports that some owners of holiday apartments are starting to exploit the situation – they’ll rent their, oftentimes even illegal, holiday apartments to refugees, the rent is then paid by the senate. Berliner Zeitung reports that the new manager of a homeless shelter in Mitte decided to kick out the homeless to take in more profitable refugees.
Violence is an urgent issue in most of the shelters where many people live together without sufficient private space. Especially violence against women and LGBT persons. Edition F talked to Heike Rabe of the German Institute for Human Rights who demands more safe spaces for women and victims of sexualized violence, as well as stricter laws according to the Istanbul convention. Not only violence inside of shelters is a problem, but even more attacks against them. Wikipedia now features a list of attacks against shelters in Germany, it’s frightening.
Any good news?
Project Reconnect is a huge donation by Google, who will give 25,000 Chromebooks to nonprofit organizations supporting refugees in Germany. Organizations can use them for language courses, create internet cafés, organize children’s activities and much more. They can apply with a description of their work on the website until February 8th.
How can you help this week?
The shelter in Mariendorf’s Großbeerenstraße is looking for school supplies like backpacks, pens, writing books and much more.
ICOON for refugees is finished! It’s an icon dictionary with vocabulary for refugees and you can now buy 20 for just 20 Euro that will be donated to refugee aid organizations (plus one for you).
Kreuzberg Hilft is inviting you to an open house day this Sunday to inform about their work, plans, and possibilities to join. The event is free, but they’d be very happy about donated gift cards for clothing shops or drugstores.
Berlin wants to say thank you to all those who invested their time and money to help refugees on January 31st. Many museums, animal parks, and theaters are inviting volunteers. The full program is here.
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.
Information and links to initiatives in Berlin can be found on the websites of Flüchtlingsrat Berlin and at bürgeraktiv. Register at volunteer planner to start helping at shelters, many are urgently looking for help, either work in donation rooms or support during breakfast, lunch and dinner services.