Letter from Germany – part 7- Freedom and Security

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Baby in Leichlingen 20150003
©Britta Berg. Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger, 06.11.2015.

Christl Stephanblome - croppedby Christl Stephanblome

 

 

A story

It’s a boy, the first refugee baby in Leichlingen near Cologne. During the birth an
aunt of the young father, who lives in Berlin, translated from German into Arabic, from
Arabic into German. All went well. The young couple came from Aleppo, Syria, over
Turkey, by boat to Greece, saved by the Greek coastguard, by truck with 18 other refugees to
Germany, where they arrived in October. The young mother was in the 8th month of her
pregnancy. Now they have to wait until their application for asylum is approved. That
will  probably take until February. Then they want to look for a flat in town. They have
relatives nearby so they are safe. They are deeply thankful.

Housing

The problem is to find housing for the refugees. So they live in what can be

found: In schools, containers, gym halls, tents (in the meantime converted into heatable
ones), former administration buildings, shopping centres, churches, newly built small
wooden houses, unoccupied houses, you name it.

In an exhibition hall (1000 sqm) in Berlin live 1000 refugees, people of different nationalities, different religions,
different languages, they can hardly talk> to one another, different customs. Privacy like zero. Noise overwhelming. They stay a short
time and leave to be brought to accommodations in communities in another federal state
or in one of the states of the EU, an arrangement that needs a lot of discussion. Great Britain: None
are too many. Sweden starts to control its borders. They need a break. Other countries
do behave as if they have forgotten the foundation of the EU.

So it doesn’t need a lot of imagination to understand that problems in these
accommodations are inevitable. The refugees have nothing to do but wait. Men and
women are not separated. Men are molesting other men’s wives. Men beat up their wives,
parents, their children. Water toilets are not known in some other countries … The
daily routine is new too e.g. to stand in line to pick up the food. There was much
anxiety and even fights that there wouldn’t be enough. Sometimes aggression mounts
and explodes. But there is more to learn e.g. the German language, if there only were
enough teachers; there are yoga courses for the children, a kind of playground in a
corner of a tent and much more.

Information about these different accommodations is scarce, because the authorities
try to provide the refugees with a time of recovering and therefore don’t want the
media in these places. Seems understandable, but makes the population insecure and
anxious.

Not to forget the growing prejudices. The right wings are riding high and make a lot
of noise, sometimes leading to burned houses and attacks on refugees. But still it is a
minority. They are watched by the police and shown by anti demonstrations the opinion of
the population. The East of Germany is seemingly more prepositioned for this ideologies,
probably because they have had no experience with foreigners in the past.

Questions asked

How may refugees came? How many will come in the future?

Even the government does ‘t know the number. It speaks of 800.000 refugees this year,
but the number of unregistered refugees are not known. The journalists speak of 1,000,000 refugees, well knowing that it is only an estimated number. Nobody knows when the> wave of migrants will stop. So we have to expect them for the next few years.

What will become of our country? Will this migration not water down the purity
of our culture?

It is quite different to receive thousands of people from our own
culture as happened when the wall broke down. from receiving refugees belonging to another quite
different culture. Surely now also Christians are coming, but seemingly most of the
refugees are Muslims of every shade e.g. Shiites and Sunnites. So the question is asked:
Do we have to expect to get their conflicts in our own country too? We don’t know
anything about all the other different religions.

How do we integrate refugees?

Many of the refugees are educated people, physicians, engineers, craftsmen etc., with
valid exam, vocational training etc., professions needed in our country, but often with
no knowledge of the German language and with professions not acknowledged by our state.
Besides: what to do with the illiterate?

How do we send back those who don’t have a right to stay?

Where should we sent them? According to the Schengen Treaty, they should stay in the
country where they first registered? To Lesbos?
Where can we send them when they don’t have papers and we can’t find out who
they are and where they come from?
How can we send them back, when we know that they will be persecuted in their home
country?
How can we send them back, when their home countries don’t want them back?

Helpers

I am sure we would live in a chaos if there weren’t the volunteers, who do the
work: sort the clothes, play with the children, cook the food, build the emergency
accommodations, listen to the sometimes horrible stories of the flight, get them to the
physicians, help them to deliver their babies, get them to the different offices, fight
the bureaucracy, smile and be friendly, but strict. They sometimes work 18 hours per
day, take unpaid leave of absence from their jobs, get a street car driving through
Cologne to collect winter clothes. And much more. But slowly they become tired,
especially because they don’t know what the future has to offer. Sometimes resistance is
exercised e.g. when a village of 2000 inhabitants should take care of 3500 refugees from
one day to another without any notice. When bureaucracy is too slow. When …, When …
Then anger rises, but they do not stop working. One thing for sure we weren’t prepared.

Short Notes, 12.11.2015

The question of family reunification, which is a law, is debated. The proposal is to
suspend it for two years. One argues that every application would mean that 4 to 8
family members would follow one refugee.
The crime rate didn’t increase. But nevertheless the police are watchful
The refugees don’t bring new illnesses, as we were told by physicians.

Short Notes, 14.11.2015

Last night the IS assaulted several places in Paris: 128 people dead, mostly young
people, 80 injured, some seriously. In France a state of emergency is declared. Is
there anything more necessary to explain why the refugees did leave their homes and their
families?? Is there anything more important than to defend our democracy?