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Open letter from residents* of the refugee shelter in Hohenleipisch

Hohenleipisch, 17 July 2019

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

We are residents of the refugee camp in Hohenleipisch, Brandenburg. We are writing to you because we hope you can help us in the current situation. Our camp is located in the midst of the forest, i.e. we are cut off from civilization. Public transport only operates until 5.30 pm on weekdays and does not operate at all during the weekend, meaning we have to stay in the forest. If we miss the last bus, we have to walk along the roadway, as there are no sidewalks. If the children would like to join a club or follow a course, the transportation problems make it impossible. It is not possible to visit other children or receive visitors either. As the closest supermarket is eight kilometers away, we have to buy many groceries at once and carry the heavy bags home by hand. We all live in very old buildings, it is dirty, there are insects (e.g. cockroaches). There is an unpleasant smell and it is a very confined space. In the camp there are no leisure facilities to counter the boredom. The life in this camp is reminiscent of a prison that no one can leave.

Since the recent event the situation in the camp has changed a lot. Since 7 April 2019 a woman from our camp was missing. She had two children. Nobody knew where she was and what happened to her, until her remains were found 200 meters from our camp. In July this year we were all told that she was dead and the cause of her death was unknown. Yet, we know that she was killed, because Rita was a person, a mother, who would not have committed suicide.

We have not yet come back to our senses, since we have learned that she is not with us any longer. We are all very afraid to live here, as it is also possible that her murderer is still living amongst us in the camp. In the evening, we are afraid to go to the bathroom alone. Nobody wants to understand us, comprehend our current situation. The social workers in the camp made the decision to have a fence built around the camp premises. They think this would solve our problems. They do everything to prevent us from complaining about our problems, so that the camp is not closed and they do not lose their jobs.

We want to be helped, to leave this horrible place. None of us needs huge apartments in the city center. We just want to get out of here. We need humane accommodation.

When we came here from our home countries, we were hoping for a better future in Germany. After all, it is a democratic country, where a solution can be found for every problem. Little did we know that we would live here with several people in small rooms in the middle of the woods. Many people are wondering why we do not integrate in Germany. The answer is simple: How can people integrate if they are in the forest 24 hours per day? How can we learn German, if we never see any Germans and listen to them speak? How can one be so cruel and insensitive to people? Why are you treated as a second-class person if you are from a different country? Why do we have to live in the forest, because we are refugees? Why does anyone have to live in a forest? No one can answer these questions. We hope that someone will give attention to our problems and that the current situation does not remain unchanged. We hope someone can help us.

Thank you for your attention.
Hoping for a quick reply and help,
Residents of the camp in Hohenleipisch, Brandenburg

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