FuGeeLa: Refugees in Berlin #20

By Alisdare Hickson on Flickr

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

2600 | people are donating regularly for Flüchtlingspaten Syrien, one of the most admirable volunteer programs supporting Syrian refugees. The association is organizing sponsors, who’re acting as guarantors for refugees coming to Germany, and take care of all the costs. It’s a special law only existent in Berlin, and it has helped over 100 refugees coming to Berlin via plane. They’re always looking for new sponsors, als well as regular donors. Next Monday, they’re holding an information event in Moabit, join them if you want to hear more.

How’s the situation at the shelters & LaGeSo?

As reported earlier, Berlin has a new centre for registrations at ICC, where every refugee has to go first, no matter the concern. What many organizations assumed from the beginning, turns out to hold truth according to a short docu on RBB – while all have to go to ICC first, most of them will then have to be transported back to the original LaGeSo at Turmstraße, where most concerns are processed, which is not only inefficient, but also costly since the city has to employ private bus companies for that.

Finally, the first modular apartment house is being build in Tegel – the new accommodation with eight floors will be finished before Christmas, if everything goes to plan, as Tagesspiegel reports.

The senate is trying to move refugees out of gyms, and while local aid organizations support that, they criticize the methods regarding the speed and distribution of refugees in the city. Many have to move out of Kreuzberg and their newly found networks to live in areas far off the center, where they will have to start anew to build a support system, claims the organization Kreuzberg Hilft in an open letter.

The closing of gyms that have been used as shelters is progressing a lot slower than planned. The senate claims they didn’t want to burden the refugees with moving during Ramadan, but local Imams raised doubts about that explanation, stating that moving is not forbidden during fasting, as Morgenpost reports.

Meanwhile, Morgenpost states that the costs to make the gyms fit for use again have been rising over the proposed five million euro.

What’s the government of Berlin doing?

The long awaited new arrival centre is not going to be installed at the Tempelhof airport, Berlin’s administration just now buried their developed plans due to over-budget planning and the lack of privacy for necessary interviews in the hangars. The senate is now considering the shelter in Wilmersdorf as new location for the arrival centre, as Morgenpost reports.

Last week, Berlin’s Flüchtlingsrat claimed the BAMF, the office deciding over asylum applications, sends out invites for interviews intentionally late, so applicants miss their appointments and face penalties. They’ve received a mass of complaints about this in the days before publishing their claims. BAMF denies all of these allegations, Tagesspiegel reports.

The number of deportations have tripled in comparison to last year, rbb reports, about 1000 people who applied for asylum have been deported in the first half of 2016, most of them to Serbia, Bosnia, Kosova and Albania, who were all declared safe countries of origin.

Any good news?

For Vice, journalists who fled their countries are writing about their experiences in their new homes. Like Yassin Hawwa from Lebanon, who writes about how it feels to join a gay pride parade for the first time without fear: “At that moment, I realized how happy these people live in a society who respects you just for being a human regardless of your sex, race, religion, gay or straight. I think that’s one of the most important elements for a society to be successful and provide safety to everyone.” Read the full article here.

How can you help this week?

Champions ohne Grenzen, an organization for refugee football, hosts a big tournament on July 9th in Kreuzberg: Kick Out Racism.

SO 36 is throwing a supporting party for Kreuzberg Hilft on July 9th.

On July 10th, family blog “Family without borders” organizes a women for women picnic, aiming to connect refugee women with local women to boost friendships and networks.

Kavita Meelu’s new project Souk Berlin is bringing you United Street Food, presenting many of the organizations working with food and refugees. Happening on July 31st at Markthalle 9.

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.


also leave a comment
  1. Martin Keune on


    Dear Mary, thanks for mentioning us, the Flüchtlingspaten Syrien e.V. . One thing was wrong: The law allowing close relatives of syrian refugees to follow them to germany if a sponsor subscribes, also exists in Brandenburg, Thüringen, Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg. But in the other parts of germany, the sponsor would have to pay the costs of rent and living himself, while we collecting monthly donations and pay everything by crowdfunding. Until tomorrow, the sponsorship would last forever – the new „Integrationsgesetz“ cuts the duration down to five years which makes it much easier to sign such a thing. – For us, our job doesn’t stop by flying the relatives (40% women, 40% children, 20% men) in – we’re also giving obligatory daily german lessons, renting the flats and helping in finding a job with nearly 40 volunteers. Visit our website at http://www.fluechtlingspaten-syrien.de (in german). Best, Martin

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Hi Martin, thanks so much for explaining things further!

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