The news about the situation of refugees in Berlin are still coming in, but they’ve slowed down. The situation has been calming down for several months 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
2.000.000 | That’s how much the so called Blumenhalle cost, that sits enthroned on the ramp of former airport Tempelhof. Initially planned as an emergency shelter, then re-planned as a recreational area for kids and teens, the lightweight construction is not yet usable due to a lack in fire prevention and air conditioning. Current forecasts say the hall can probably be used starting in December. Just another example for how complicated and tedious Berlin’s building projects currently are, as Morgenpost puts it.
How’s the situation at the shelters & LaGeSo?
This month, a new administrative center opened for matters regarding refugees inside of the ICC. Since then, every request is first handled by this new center, who then sends people to the office in charge. It was hoped this system would put an end the hour long waiting times in the former main registration center, LaGeSo at Turmstraße. However, all it created is a big circle, since most matters still have to be resolved at Turmstraße, leading to ICC merely being a transit office. As we hear, people still have to wait insufferably long in lines, once they arrive at Turmstraße.
Berlin’s senate’s current focus is to close down the emergency shelters at gyms, freeing them for regular use. However, that rarely means refugees can move into proper homes or apartments, but that they’ll be moved to another emergency housing, mainly the dreaded shelter at former Tempelhof airport. 14 families who used to live in a shelter in Spandau, protested against this move and camped outside of their former house. Luckily enough, the administration managed to find them another, more kid-friendly shelter, Tagesspiegel reports.
What’s the government of Berlin doing?
Since the number of new arrivals is at an all-time low due to the closed borders in South of Europe, the planned modular homes shouldn’t be used as communal accommodation but apartments for refugees and their families, as well as homeless people and students, says Mario Czaja in an interview, also referring to the need of affordable housing in the city. However, none of the planned 12 sites have been build yet.
The master plan concerning integration was finally voted in by the senate. It includes a focus on education, integration into the employment market and more safety. The latter will be implemented by training 200 new police staff. Also included is a support of the involvement of refugees, providing the possibility to join council boards and new channels for complaints. See the press release here.
Included in the master plan is the encouragement of refugee children joining local kindergartens. For this, Berlin wants to create 14.000 new spots in the coming years, reports Tagesspiegel.
To support refugees joining the employment market, the German government released an app with which refugees can easily check the acceptance of foreign degrees.
Any good news?
Querstadtein, an organization offering Berlin tours with rather unusual guides, also offers a tour held by two refugees from Syria, showing an interested audience their take on the city. You can book a tour with Arij and Samer in Neukölln here (held in English).
How can you help this week?
Since the registration facilities and offices will move away from Turmstraße in the coming weeks, aid organization Moabit Hilft also re-structures their work. They stopped accepting clothing donations, but are still looking for financial donations, as well as prams, metro tickets, as well as vouchers for clothing shops and drugstores. See a full explanation here.
Multaka, an organization training refugees as guides in Berlin’s museums, just received an award for their work of the federal state, just another reason to support them financially: here.
On June 4th, the festival Interventionen will offer workshops, tours, performances and music with the aim to create an exchange with migrant and refugee grassroots organizations.
On the same date, Moabit Hilft, Be An Angel and Place 4 Refugees will hold a rally on Alexanderplatz, claiming fundamental rights for refugees.
The shelter at Rathaus Wilmersdorf is urgently looking for prams, school materials for kids, equipment for their bike repair shop as well as bikes, shoes, sun glasses and underwear. It’s at Fehrbelliner Platz with the entrance on Brienner Strasse.
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.