Criticism of Brandenburg's refugee policy and Stübgen's deportation plans

Refugee organizations criticize Brandenburg’s refugee policy. Accommodation has not improved in ten years, there is a lack of living space and staff in authorities to respond to applications for a job or an apartment in a timely manner.

Representatives of Youth Without Borders, Refugees Emancipation Brandenburg, Terre des Hommes and Pro Asyl report this three days before the Interior Ministers’ Conference (IMK) takes place in Potsdam from June 19 to 21, and formulate demands to the federal and state interior ministers. Their central demand: “Refugees need protection – not racist incitement!” The press conference on Monday is the start of several actions.

“We are currently experiencing a toxic debate about flight and migration, which portrays refugees as scapegoats for social failures,” says Tareq Alaows, refugee policy spokesman for Pro Asyl. For a lack of affordable housing, a lack of daycare and school places and a lack of infrastructure in the municipalities. Deportations are presented as a supposed solution. But this is precisely what violates the rights of refugees.

Against deportations to Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria

In the debate about deportations of criminals, Brandenburg’s Interior Minister and Chairman of the IMK, Michael Stübgen (CDU), is calling on the federal government to speed up negotiations with Syria and also with the Taliban ruling in Afghanistan. “There is no legal way to carry out deportations to Afghanistan without violating Paragraph 3 in War, the principle of the prohibition of torture (in the European Convention on Human Rights, editor’s note),” said Alaows.

Tareq Alaows, refugee policy spokesman for Pro Asyl.

© PR/Frank Weber

Working with an Islamist regime will not strengthen democracy, but weaken it, says Tareq Alaows. This also applies to the cooperation talks with the Assad regime in Syria. Pro Asyl is also calling for an immediate stop to deportations of people from Iran and Yazidi people from Iraq.

The debate about leaving is also being driven by the knife attacks in Mannheim and Wolmirstedt. From a psychological point of view, this poisonous debate is devastating for refugees, especially for young people, says Annika Schlingheider, a refugee and migration officer for the children’s aid organization Terre des Hommes. She says: “When children and young people commit crimes, they need support rather than exile.” Social services, access to education and integration are the preventive measures to prevent radicalization.

Criticism of the island departure center and payment card

“For us, deportation is a death sentence,” says Immamlate Chienku from Refugees Emancipation Brandenburg. People who seek protection should also find it. She sharply criticizes the planned departure center on the Oder Island near Küstrin-Kietz in Märkisch-Oderland. “It is no man’s land, no infrastructure,” she says after an on-site visit. This pushes refugees into illegality. Brandenburg’s integration commissioner Diana Gonzalez Olivo previously criticized the plans.

The site of a former barracks on the Oder Island in Küstrin-Kietz is to become an exit center.

© dpa/Patrick Pleul

Asylum procedures in third countries, as is already the case in Great Britain, are also being discussed. Terre des Hommes rejects the outsourcing of asylum procedures because it cannot be guaranteed that human rights are being respected outside of its own legal security, says Schlingheider. “We have seen the human rights violations in Turkey and Tunisia,” adds Alaows.

Stübgen has also initiated a debate on the citizen’s allowance for Ukrainian refugees who are able to fight. “We demand equal treatment for refugees. This also applies to people from Ukraine,” said Alaows. Anyone with a residence permit will receive citizen’s allowance. Even within the group of Ukrainians, everyone should be treated equally, he said.

Michael Stübgen (CDU), Minister of the Interior of Brandenburg and Chairman of the IMK.

© dpa/Michael Bahlo

Problems in Brandenburg’s refugee policy

With regard to Brandenburg’s refugee policy, activists are once again criticizing the payment card, which is limited to 50 euros in Brandenburg. This is “a massive restriction on the independent lifestyle of refugees,” says Vincent da Silva from the Brandenburg Refugee Council. The payment card will encourage more illegal work, says Immamlate Chienku from Refugee Emancipation Brandenburg.

She cites the long waiting time between the asylum application and the decision as another problem in the state. Some people are stuck in this phase for six years, says Chienku. Mohamed Adam Abona Mohamed from Youth Without Borders, who came to Potsdam-Mittelmark from Chad in 2014, reports that he was unable to work or attend language courses for eight years. He now has a residence permit, but has not been able to find an apartment for seven years. Due to the housing shortage and racism, moving out of accommodation is impossible for many.

Alaows from Pro Asyl, which also advises refugees in Brandenburg, reports that due to a lack of staff in the authorities, applications are not processed in a timely manner. By the time a work permit is issued, months have passed and the job is gone. The same is true for apartments. Another point of criticism: civil society organizations are not allowed access to the arrival center in Eisenhüttenstadt.

He cites Potsdam as a positive example – a municipality that is trying to find solutions. According to a recent survey by the Media Service Integration, one in five municipalities surveyed in eastern Germany manage to accommodate refugees “without great difficulty”, while 70.8 percent see the situation as “challenging, but (still) doable”.

By Editor

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