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Viral fonds

#Social distancing is a privilege: Bernburg lager in Sachsen-Anhalt Covid-19, sexual harassment and violence in the lagers:

The lockdown has not been easy for anyone. Even for those who have homes, the situation has either produced the best or the worst from our families. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the discriminatory reality in our society has become more visible than ever, because the privileged people now have to cope with far worse life situations than before. The isolated areas, sharing crowded living spaces, bathrooms, toilets and kitchens with no privacy is just part of the problem. Due to the isolated situation, the refugee women are additionally and more often exposed to sexual harassment and violence!

Below is a shocking open letter on the situation of refugee women living in the Bernburg lager in Sachsen-Anhalt. They want their problems publicized and finally get the chance to leave the camp.

“We are (female) African immigrants living in ….. since April 24. Currently, the association for mistreated, beaten, assaulted, and abused women is taking charge of us ……..  Since we are here, we feel that we are coming to life again, even if we continue to struggle to overcome our previous traumas and those that we recently had to go through in Halberstadt and Bernburg Saale.

The story that we are going to tell you today is the story that we, the ladies B, F, H, K, have suffered in Bernburg (Saale), more precisely at Teichweg 6, a home (Heim) for foreign residents. On April 22, Ms. B has been physically assaulted by Mr. E, who lives in the same home as us. All of this was the result of misunderstandings or gossip; this is why Mr. E entered her room in a certain anger and gave her a thrashing without any explanation. She held her baby of one year and a half in her arms. Following a cry for help by Ms. F, all residents of the home went to the victim’s room, where we tried to drag her out on the corridor to protect her from the hands of her Guru (aggressor/manipulator).

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Solidary greetings from Frauenverband Courage to the women of Women in Exile

On 12.05.2020 we received the press release from “Women in Exile” about the untenable situation in the refugee camp in Hennigsdorf, which has been under permanent quarantine for 4 weeks. For the women in the refugee camp this meant a special aggravation of their situation. Due to the curfew, the residents themselves cannot go shopping. There are ready-made shopping lists to tick off. On these lists, there are important items missing that the women need such as sanitary & toiletries e.g. bandages, soaps, diapers etc. In an impressive solidarity action, women from Women in Exile brought the necessary items to the camp to hand them over, exchange solidarity greetings and photos to everything under proper safety distances including face-masks protection.The police accused them of an unannounced demonstration, violation of Assembly Act, issued expulsions and announced mail.

Dear women of Women in Exile,

we from Frauenverband Courage send you our solidarity greetings. We are outraged upon the treatment of the refugees in the Hennigsdorf camp, especially the situation of the women in the camp, the permanent prolongation of the quarantine without protection and humane care for those affected.

Your action of solidarity with women should set as an example and we reject the criminalization of you by the police as well as the criminalization of other helpers like in Bad Belzig or the Doberlug-Kirchhain.

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Press release 12.05.2020: Refugee camp in Hennigsdorf in permanent quarantine by Women in Exile & supported by Flüchtlingsrat Brandenburg

The refugees accommodated in Hennigsdorf, in the collective accommodation Stolpe-Süd, have been under quarantine for 4 weeks.

Today the 12.05.2020, should’ve been officially over for everyone, but it was extended again until the 21.05.20. Those who tested positive could already leave the quarantine on 05.05.

After 68 residents who were tested positive for Covid-19 during the first tests in April, now 17 more from the 300 residents at present have at the moment tested positive.

This is no surprise for us because, since the pandemic was declared, we say that the collective accommodations for refugees are incubators of the virus, because the physical distance regulations are not practicable there due to the narrow-shared rooms and the common rooms like bathrooms and kitchens.

We are in close contact with the refugee women living there and they have told us about their catastrophic conditions: No visitors, large presence of the federal police, no internet & isolation by quarantine.

Due to the curfew, the residents have been given a shopping list on which they can mark the food they need. Apart from some food and washing powder, there are no sanitary/hygiene articles that are necessary for women and children, which also are normal part of their shopping needs. The women reported that they lack sanitary towels, baby diapers, soap and face-masks.

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Covid-19 Pandemic: #SocialDistanceIsAPrivilege – Keeping the Social Distancing rule is impossible in lagers

On 21.04. we got reports that in the Hennigsdorf camp in the district of Oberhavel, 20 refugees were tested positive to the corona virus. In the same camp which is a stone throw away from Berlin, 300 refugees have been quarantined while testing is going on. Other camps like Zeppelinstr. in Potsdam and much more in Berlin are already under the status of forced quarantine.

Hennigsdorf is just an example of the so called „transit homes “, where refugees are supposed to be accommodated temporary for a short period while solutions of accommodating them in proper flats is found.

In these so called „transit homes “refugee live sometimes for over ten years. Sharing rooms with a living space of only 6qm² and sharing also all other facilities such as toilets, bathrooms, kitchens. At the end, most of them end up depressed and traumatised from the situation, while some don’t find other ways than committing suicide. On top of this women encounter sexual and physical violence from inside and outside because of their vulnerability in these forced accommodation spaces. The murder of our sister Rita last year is a case in point (see our article ).

Continue reading Covid-19 Pandemic: #SocialDistanceIsAPrivilege – Keeping the Social Distancing rule is impossible in lagers

Covid-19 Is Not The Only Danger Inside The Camps: Abolish All Lagers!!!

#Combat Covid-19 + Combat Lagers!

# Justice for Rita

07.04.2020 – First anniversary of the disappearance of our sister Rita

We still demand “Justice for Rita”!

One year ago, on 07.04.2019, our sister Rita was reported missing. Her body had been lying only 200 meters away from her camp in Hohenleipisch and yet it took the police almost three months to find her. The police investigation took another six months to confirm that Rita had been murdered. Only then was Rita’s body handed over to her family for the funeral.

To this day there is no information whatsoever about what happened to our sister. Rita was only 32 years old, left two small children behind and had to spend the last seven years of her life in the camp in Hohenleipisch. During this time she complained several times to the home management about sexual harassment, but her complaints were ignored throughout.

The consequence of ignoring our demand for “abolition of all Lagers” can be seen particularly well in the current Covid 19 pandemic period.

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Protect Human Lives! Dissolve Mass Accommodation!

Flats Instead Of Lagers!

Protect Human Lives! Dissolve Mass Accommodation!

Flats Instead Of Lagers!

Shared Press Release by

We’ll Come United Berlin und Brandenburg

Flüchtlingsrat Berlin e.V.

AK Wohnungsnot

Unter Druck e.V.

Women in Exile e.V.

Selbstvertretung wohnungsloser Menschen /

Wohnungslosentreffen

Wohnungslosenparlament

Bündnis solidarische Stadt

Armutsnetzwerk e.V.

Berlin, 7. April 2020

While contact is restricted by numerous measures for protection against the Corona Virus, tens of thousands of people in Berlin live in shelters for refugees and homeless people, cramped together in multi-bed rooms and shared facilities like bathrooms and kitchens. At least 30,000 homeless have been placed in precarious accommodation, often without any social care or quality standards, by the district offices according to the ASOG, and a further 20,0002 live in collective accommodation run by the State Office for Refugee Affairs (LAF) with up to 500 residents per shelter. In this situation, it is impossible to comply with contact and distance prohibitions. In addition, there are several thousand homeless people living on the streets, who are hardly able to protect themselves from the virus. On the other hand, almost all 150,000 beds in the 800 hotels and accommodation facilities in Berlin are currently empty, and there are also numerous holiday apartments and furnished “business apartments” that are usually rented on a monthly basis.

We demand the immediate housing of all homeless people in flats and holiday or business apartments and the dissolution of mass accommodation where protection against infection is not possible.

Our demands:

Safe and decent living instead of homelessness and collective accommodation – immediate measures

Homeless people always belong to the so-called risk groups due to the living conditions on the streets, their situation has been considerably aggravated by the corona pandemic: Berlin emergency overnight shelters were closed or the number of beds reduced. Day care facilities for the homeless closed, too. The supply of food is partly shifted to the streets, the existing supply structure is crumbling. For people on the street, this is an enormous physical and psychological burden.The 350 places recently created at two locations in Berlin for homeless people are far from sufficient for the 2000 people who were recently counted in Berlin living visibly on the streets. The corona virus can spread quickly in the emergency shelters of the “Kältehilfe” – they are a danger to those affected and everyone else.

Many people with severe pre-disorders, older people and pregnant women as well as families with children live in accommodation for the homeless and refugees. Strangers have to share a room. In accommodations with shared sanitary facilities and kitchens, the necessary hygiene and adherence to distance rules are not possible and the risk of infection is considerable.

Due to the current situation in Berlin, many holiday apartments, pensions, business apartments and hotel rooms are vacant. There is no shortage of self-contained housing units. There are individual sanitary facilities and the possibility of individual quarantines. Through a local network of gastronomic enterprises, people in accommodation without cooking facilities or in quarantine could be provided with food and at the same time the local structures could be supported. Especially in times of a pandemic, we see it as a social obligation to create conditions for ALL people that reduce the risk of infection. We call on the operators of hotels, holiday apartments and business apartments to show solidarity and make a contribution to overcoming the crisis.

We call on the Senate to take immediate action by renting vacant hotel rooms, holiday apartments and business apartments for the homeless, for people at risk and for people in mass and collective accommodation without private bathrooms, thus initiating the end of mass accommodation.

Provide reliable information and advice, access to WLAN and infection protection

Collective shelters offer a roof over ones head, but apart from a lack of protection against the spread of the virus, there is little reliable protection for the residents. Refugees report that in many shelters they only work with bans instead of information. Information and education from health authorities is sometimes completely absent. Quarantine measures were implemented in a number of shelters. The residents were left in the dark about the reason and duration of the quarantine. There was no protective equipment such as face masks and disinfectants for either staff or residents. The people remained alone with their fears and questions. Due to the lack of WLAN in the residents’ rooms, many people are unable to access information and education or communicate with employers and authorities. The Internet volume of mobile phone contracts often does not reach the end of the month. In addition, the residents are currently increasingly depending on the mercy of the sometimes strict power structures of the collective accommodations due to visitation bans.

We call on the Senate to provide up-to-date information about the corona virus and its effects on everyday life in all necessary languages online and to open up WLAN access points (e.g. from hotels, authorities, schools) available on the street so that ALL people have free access to information. In addition, information access must be created for people without a smartphone or telephone. In the accommodations, access to a powerful WLAN must be available in all living areas. This is also a prerequisite for the participation of students in digital lessons and for contact with authorities. Disinfectants and protective clothing must be available to residents and staff in the accommodation at all times.

Organize individual quarantines instead of quarantine for entire shelters:

If people in a mass accommodation have tested positive for corona, it is the responsibility of the district medical officer to order appropriate quarantine measures. A quarantine is very stressful for the people concerned. Priority must be given to housing sick persons and their identified contact persons separately in individual quarantine apartments. A common quarantine for all inhabitants of a mass accommodation is irresponsible because it only increases the danger for all. Instead, it is necessary to transfer the persons individually to accommodation with an apartment structure and to holiday apartments etc., where individual quarantines can be implemented appropriately.

We call on the Senate to avoid quarantines for entire collective accommodations at all costs and to instruct the districts to implement quarantines for residents individually by moving them to suitable apartments or accommodations with an apartment structure.

Guarantee psychological support

The risk of re-traumatisation due to the threat of the corona virus is high for many refugees. There is a lack of retreat and privacy in collective shelters, especially for families. The already difficult access to psychological counselling in the language of origin is almost completely blocked by the corona pandemic. Many homeless people also suffer from mental illnesses such as depression. The pandemic increases insecurity, feelings of fear and solidifies social marginalization. A quarantine in a confined space is an extremely stressful and frightening situation.

We demand the provision of psychological counselling in the languages of origin by telephone and online.

Apartments instead of camps

For reasons of protection against infection and to enable the homeless and refugees to lead a self-determined life, they should be accommodated primarily in flats rather than in emergency shelters and collective accommodation. A WBS is to be issued as a matter of urgency to those who have lost their homes or who meet the income limits for the Wohnberechtigungsschein (WBS), as well as to asylum seekers, tolerated and recognised refugees in collective accommodation. The obligation to live in a refugee shelter is to be abolished (cf. § 49 Para. 2 AsylG). On the basis of the WBS with urgency, vacant and new flats of the Land Berlin as well as social housing are to be allocated first to homeless persons, accommodated homeless persons and refugees from collective shelters (real housing first instead of building and occupying more and more new collective shelters).

The closure of mass housing, access to housing for ALL and nationwide access to information and education through free WLAN for all is necessary to contain the Corona pandemic and future pandemics.

All the problems mentioned above will be solved or reduced by moving away from mass housing and towards the possibility for all people to live in flats.

Press Contacts:

We’ll Come United Berlin Brandenburg, Tel. 0163 1601 783

Flüchtlingsrat Berlin, buero@fluechtlingsrat-berlin.de, Tel. 030 224 76 311 (ggf. lange klingeln lassen wegen Weiterleitung in das Home Office)

Selbstvertretung wohnungsloser Menschen, stefan.schneider@wohnungslosentreffen.de

#WohnungStattLager #LeaveNoOneBehind #NoLager

Covid-19 in Doberlug-Kirchhain – we demand the immediate closure of this camp

It has been a question of when and not if, corona virus would find its way to lagers in Brandenburg too. Separate containers have been set on the compounds and some of the refugees have been under quarantine. The first three cases from the refugees who have been quaranted in Doberlug-Kirchhain have now tested positive. The refugees are now living in fear and scared of their lives because they are aware, there is very little they can do to prevent themselves of being infected with the covid-19.

So far, they are supposed to wear masks, each has been presented with one because they aren`t more in the moment. They are still allowed to go into the city, if necessary but only in a group of two persons. They have been warned of being fined if the police finds them breaking the social distance law of 1,5m. The camp will not be in quarantine as a whole unless many refugees in the camp test positive.

Organisations working with refugees have been demanding for the closure of lagers for many years and the demands have got intensified since the break of the covid-19. Press releases from different organisations in Berlin and Brandenburg and German wide have been focusing on the closure of the camps and moving the refugees to alternative spaces. After police invaded the dention camp in Suhl (Thüringen), it was obvious for the refugees no solution could be found. Physical distancing is impossible in the often crowded way they are accommodated and the sharing of the amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and kitchens or dining halls.

Doberlug-Kirchhain should be closed immediately! Close all Camps!!

Social Distance is a privilege

Though Corona virus has proven that there is no race but human beings. We still realise that the protection measures are not for everybody. In the camps, it is very obvious that “Social Distancing is Privilege” This is why our “No Lager for Women and children!, Abolish all lagers” is still very present. https://www.fluechtlingsrat-brandenburg.de/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PM_Unterbringung-von-Flüchtlingen-während-Corona-Pandemie.pdf

We have already pointed that information in different languages are lacking in the camps. Aft.er starting our video empowerment campaign for women to share their experience and situation they are going through at the moment.

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It is very obvious, it is impossible to follow the “social distancing” rules because in the camps, sharing of social amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and kitchen/dining halls. We will keep sharing this information with you regularly.

Video Workshops

We, Women in Exile & Friends, will exchange information about the Corona crisis together with the women in the Camps, accompany and empower each other. We will do this digital.

That is what we want to do:

  • We share our knowledge about free and easily accessible video conferencing facilities in telephone conversations. Since there is very often no Wlan in the rooms, we will need money for the mobile data of the women.
  • We break the isolation by sharing knowledge. The women lived in isolation in the camps even before the “social-distancing” through Corona. We want to empower ourselves to demand solid information, transparency and the right to have a say from the authorities.
  • We exchange information on preventive measures to prevent or slow down the spread of the corona virus. Even though we realise that this is impossible in overcrowded camps. The problem is a structural one and cannot be solved by washing hands. Racism and mass housing is the problem and this can now have catastrophic consequences.

The first part of the campaign will be to contact the women by telephone, explaining to them how to take part in a video conferencing workshop.

The second part will be the digital workshop where we will discuss the impact of the Corona crisis in the refugee community.

International Women Day 2020 : „We fight together”

Marching with our allies in Potsdam, on Saturday the 07.03.20. Celebrating International day for women with the motto „We fight together”.

The activities on this day were as diverse and corouful as the alliances. We read speeches, celebrated and honoured past women* hereoes who died through femicide or racism. We made our voices loud by shouting slogans, dancing and singing.

After the demonstration and the opening of our new space on the 08.3, we diceded to reflect personally on this years International Women’s day 2020 theme: „I AM GENERATIONAL EQUALITY: realizing women`s rights“.

Taking into account that feminism is diverse and we fight together, means looking and acknowledging each other because we have different fights and different experiences.

This is why, we asked some of the women* from our group; what fighting together on gender equality individually means to them:

Fighting together on gender equality ….

….is fighting for the equal access with ease of ressources and opportunities regardless of one being male or female.“ (E.)

…is to empower women, with a focus on identifying and redressing power inbalances and giving women more autonomy to manage their own lives.“ (L.)

… means that our diversity is one of our strenghts and that we are united in our journey towards justice.“ (M.)

… means to fight for equality in all aspectects of life and against all forms of oppression and acknowledge how they are interconnected.“ ( Ch.)

… means fighting for more chances for women in all areas, creating space for women in the decision making table. It also means that women are able to explore and express their femininity without fear of sexual assault or constriction.“ (S.)

…is the struggle against the colonisation of our bodies, our minds, our people and territories. There can be no struggle for equality if there is no struggle against racism.“ (D.)

… is freeing our minds and knowing we can do what we love without fear of being dominated by any other gender, regardless of my gender.“ (C.)