Dissolve collective accommodations – redistribute now, before it is too late!

Joint press release from

Flüchtlingsrat Brandenburg, We`ll Come United Berlin Brandenburg, Handicap International e.V, International Women* Space, Women in Exile & Friends, Refugees Emancipation, KommMit e.V., Asyl in der Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg e.V., Refugee Assembly Brandenburg, Wir packen’s an e.V. – Nothilfe für Geflüchtet, Jugendliche ohne Grenzen Brandenburg, Refugee Law Clinic Berlin, Barnim für alle, Seebrücke Potsdam, Flüchtlingsberatungsstelle des ev. Kirchenkreises Oberes Havelland, ESTAruppin e.V, Geflüchteten Netzwerk Cottbus, Migrantenbeirat der Landeshauptstadt Potsdam, Vorstand des Aktionsbündnis Brandenburg, Bürger*innenasyl Barnim, SV Babelsberg 03, Brigade Konrad Wolf, Doberlug-Kirchhain VerEin, Alternatives Jugendprojekt 1260 e.V., S, Strausberg, Netzwerk neue Nachbarn Werder, Theater X, Aktionsbündnis „Offenes MOL“ Märkisch Oderland, Space2groW, colaborative Reichenow e.V., Kultur in der Alten Schäferei e.V. Reichenow, Haus des Wandels e.V. Steinhöfel-Heinersdorf, Demokratisches Jugendforum e.V., Dr. med. Nora Wawerek, Fachärztin für Allgemeinmedizin, Lunow, Dipl.Med. Almut Berg, Fachärztin für Allgemeinmedizin und Psychotherapie, Lunow, Dr. Verbena Bothe

In the large initial reception centre for refugees in Doberlug-Kirchhain there are the first confirmed Corona cases, in Potsdam all 116 residents* of a shared accommodation are quarantined after several infections and Oberhavel also reports a positive tested person in a shared accommodation, as well as more than 200 residents* in quarantine, who are to be tested today.

The first corona cases in Brandenburg collective accommodation for refugees show that action must be taken now! Mass accommodation is completely unsuitable for effective protection against infection and exposes residents to a high risk. Numerous people with disabilities, the chronically ill and other risk groups continue to live in the mass accommodations. In order to avoid the threatening quarantine of complete homes and to protect the refugees from a corona infection in the best possible way, we demand

  • Empty the first intake facilities!
  • Equalize shared accommodation and accommodate people decentrally!
  • Risk groups should be removed immediately from the collective accommodation!
  • Apartments instead of camps!

Brandenburg has space: a change of direction must now take place!

Numerous refugee organizations criticize for many years the accommodation in collective accommodations and demand a right to self-determined living in apartments and housing associations. Accommodation in alternative places of residence is feasible. Corona makes it clear once again: It is finally time for the state government to work out concepts for accommodation in apartments and not to continue to focus on mass accommodation.

In order to protect the inhabitants of the collective centres in the short term, capacities in the tourism sector can also be used pragmatically. In this way, scenarios like those that have already occurred in other federal states could be avoided: 244 people tested positive in Ellwangen, quarantine for hundreds of people each in accommodation in Halberstadt (hunger strike), Suhl and Bremen. These examples show what can happen when people have to live together in a very confined space.

The position of the Ministry of Social Affairs to avoid full quarantine of entire accommodations if possible (Circular 02/2020 of the MSGIV) is welcome – but remains an empty promise if many people continue to be forced to live together in close quarters and does not solve the long-term problem of mass accommodation.

While the city of Potsdam has already provided beds in boarding houses for refugees and homeless people in the Corona crisis and was also immediately redistributed from the accommodation in Zeppelinstraße after the infections became known, so that all persons tested negative for the virus have been in a hotel or apartments since last week, many refugees continue to live together in very confined spaces in the initial reception facilities and the other collective accommodation in the country and are thus permanently exposed to danger (Märkische Allgemeine, 9. 4.2020, “Residents in asylum centre in quarantine”; PNN, 10.4.2020).

Situation in the field office of the Doberlug-Kirchhain initial reception is coming to a head

At least three persons have so far tested positive for corona in the Doberlug-Kirchhain initial reception centre with 474 residents* and are quarantined in a container. Residents report that 15 more people are in quarantine on the fifth floor of the family building. However, individual quarantine is not possible there: people who tested negative and are waiting for the end of their quarantine share bathroom and kitchen with people who are still waiting for their test results. But instead of creating more space for quarantine requirements by decentralised redistribution to smaller accommodation, the Central Aliens Office is opting for isolation: tents have been erected on the premises with the support of the German Armed Forces (Lausitzer Rundschau 9.4.2020), and the only bus connection to the village 5 km away has been discontinued.

Residents* expect that there will be more and more cases of quarantine and corona. “It is important to us: We need transparency about the numbers of those tested positively and negatively. And also, about where they are all to be accommodated”, says one resident. Another explains: “We are housed here in a place with many restrictions. Bathrooms, kitchens and toilets are overcrowded, especially in the morning. The situation will worsen during the Ramadan period starting on April 24th. There is only one kitchen for self-catering for 50 people at a time. 70% of the inhabitants are Muslims who during the upcoming month of fasting are dependent on a certain time window for eating and preparing food. Problems with maintaining the required distance are inevitable under these conditions.

It is also difficult to keep the necessary distance when using the Internet, because WLAN is only available in certain areas, if at all.

Contact us:

Brandenburg Refugee Council: +0331 71 64 99; info@fluechtlingsrat-brandenburg.de

We’ll Come United Berlin/Brandenburg: 0163 1601783; community@welcome-united.org

For questions about the current situation of refugees with a disability in collective accommodation: Handicap International: +030 28043926; k.dietze@hi.org

Doberlug-Kirchhain United, Diana Steinborn: 0173 4802479; dk.vereint@gmail.com; Initiative for Encounter and Refugee Aid in Doberlug-Kirchain

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