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Open letter from 44 organisations to the government: Berlin access scheme for Refugees NOW

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© Flüchtlingsrat Berlin

Open letter

Berlin access scheme for Refugees NOW

Dear Governing Mayor Mr Michael Müller,

dear Senator of the Interior Mr Andreas Geisel,

dear Chairmen / dear Chairwomen of the parliamentary groups of SPD, Die Linke, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, CDU and FDP in the Berlin House of Representatives,

47 unaccompanied minors between the ages of 11 and 15 who fled the refugee camps on the Greek islands of Samos, Lesbos and Chios arrived in Germany on Saturday. Approximately 39,000 fugitives continue to live there, including 13,000 children and young people, in inhumane conditions and at extreme risk of infection (Covid 19) - the dramatic pictures and reports have long been familiar to us all.1 Many of the fugitives are already weakened in health and psychologically traumatised.

At least a start has been made - this shows us that it is possible - but it must be continued immediately. According to the Königstein Key, Berlin accounts for 5%, i.e. two or three of the 47 children.

Berlin has already agreed to accept 70 unaccompanied minors in December 2019 and has shown itself open to accepting other particularly vulnerable groups such as single mothers, families with children, the chronically ill, traumatised and elderly people. Social Senator Elke Breitenbach has publicly declared that she will immediately be able to receive, accommodate and care for 400 refugees, with more preparation even up to 2000.

Most recently, Mr. Geisel, you reaffirmed your willingness to accept refugees on 14 April 2020 in a letter to the Federal Minister of the Interior (BMI).2 In this letter you ask for the BMI's approval of a state reception programme for Berlin in accordance with § 23 (1) AufenthG

for the reception of at least 70 children from the Greek islands. They point out that other federal states also want to take in additional refugees from Greece.

The Berlin access scheme has to be implemented quickly!

  • Berlin must emphatically demand the immediate approval of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI).

  • If the BMI gives its approval, Berlin must be prepared to start recording immediately.

  • In case of rejection, Berlin must consider legal action against the BMI.

The Federal Minister of the Interior has never refused to approve a state admission programme. In recent weeks he has remained silent on the general offers of the states for admission from Greece. The Federal Ministry of the Interior must now respond immediately to the request of the Senator of the Interior of Berlin to grant approval for a Berlin state reception programme in accordance with § 23, paragraph 1 of the Residence Act for 70 children from Greek camps due to the humanitarian circumstances there.

However, humanitarian admission is a sovereign decision of the Federal State of Berlin. It is to be made solely on the basis of the unworthy conditions in the Greek camps and the special need for protection of the people admitted. A possible asylum procedure, which examines the situation in the refugees' countries of origin, is independent of this.

The legal opinions of Redeker, Sellner and Dahs4 as well as of Heuser5 come to the conclusion that, due to their constitutional sovereignty, the Länder have considerable political leeway for humanitarian land readmission.

If the BMI refuses to give its consent, the state of Berlin must therefore take legal action against the federal government for violation of its sovereignty!

The programme at state level must be concretised and operationalised without delay. This includes the preparation of an admission order by the State of Berlin according to § 23 AufenthG. Rapid coordination with the institutions active on site and the Greek authorities is also necessary in order to enable selection in the camps.

Country admission programmes are designed to respond flexibly and quickly to humanitarian emergencies. Mr Müller and Mr Geisel, act quickly, set the course for the national reception programme for particularly vulnerable refugees from Greece and get the people out of this hell!

As a civil society, we are prepared to support the reception both through our contacts with Greek civil society organisations active on the ground and through initiatives in Berlin to accompany the integration of the refugees.

Pending a timely response, we remain with binding greetings

for the undersigned organisations:

Dr. Sabine Speiser

Willkommen im Westend

Herbert Nebel

Respekt für Griechenland e.V.

Georg Classen

Flüchtlingsrat Berlin e.V.

How does the House of Democracy and Human Rights deal with the AfD and right-wing movements?

Discussions in the Foundation and with the groups of the House have made it clear that current developments are forcing us to specify which movements, which actors* and which ideas we should give a place to in our House of Democracy and Human Rights and who and what should not be given access.

The basis of our self-conception* remains the opinion of all groups working in our house as well as the foundation that the propagation of fascist, dictatorial, sexist and racist ideas is intolerable. In this sense, the Foundation and the House of Democracy are partisan and in solidarity.

In the meantime, there is not only a strong right-wing nationalist party in the German parliament, but also an increasingly blatant right-wing movement that appears reactionary-conservative and nationalistic-nationalist, without this always being apparent at first glance. They all work purposefully within the framework of the rule of law and using democratic means to achieve their political goals, an ultimately authoritarian state.

The House of Democracy and Human Rights will not offer these movements any space or opportunity for their activities. Rather, we will all focus our attention on revealing their true nature, which is hidden behind verbal-democratic demands; because more than ever, our motto is: "Resist the beginnings!
Berlin, 08. Mai 2019

First signatories:
Judith Braband, Mitglied des Kuratoriums HdDM (Vorsitzende); Eberhard Schultz, Vorsitzender der Eberhard–Schultz–Stiftung für soziale Menschenrechte und Partizipation und Vorstandsmitglied der internationalen Liga für Menschenrechte e.V.; Bernd Gehrke, AK Geschichte sozialer Bewegungen Ost West; Iris Hefets, Mitglied der jüdischen Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost; Richard Herding, Informationsdienst: kritische Medienpraxis; Renate Hürtgen, Mitglied des Kuratoriums HdDM; Thomas Klein, langjähriges Kuratoriumsmitglied für die VL; Heidemarie Kruschwitz, Vorstand Stiftung HdDM (Vorsitzende); Dietmar Lange, Mitglied des Kuratoriums HdDM; Björn Mohr, amnesty international; Pia Paust-Lassen, Berlin21 e.V.; Redaktion telegraph; Elske Rosenfeld, Mitglied des Kuratoriums HdDM; Klaus Schlüter, Mitglied des Kuratoriums HdDM und der Grünen Liga; Peer Stolle, Mitglied des Kuratoriums HdDM und im RAV; Vorstand Verein Berlin 21 e.V., Vorstand: Pia Paust-Lassen, Madeleine Porr, Malte Schmidthals, Sebastian Stragies; Michael Volk, Mitglied des Kuratoriums HdDM und der Bibliothek der Freien; Rainer Wahls, Vorstand Stiftung HdDM; Dirk Wassersleben, Mitglied des Kuratoriums HdDM und im Verein Haus der Demokratie; Lavern Wolfram, Mitglied des Kuratoriums HdDM und im Baobab Berlin e.V.