In autumn 2019, the Lower Saxony Minister of the Interior, Boris Pistorius (SPD), visited Flüchtlingslager Moriand. ( the Moria refugee camp ) on the island of Lesbos. He is so far the only state and federal minister who wanted to get a personal impression of the situation on the ground .In an interview with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (the Friedrich Ebert Foundation), he described his impressions, especially about the situation of the children:
"My visit to Lesbos last autumn shocked me deeply. The pictures, especially of children, who are housed there in the worst hygienic and sanitary conditions, have made a lasting imoression on me . I could not simply move on to the agenda without trying to help them. I am very pleased that it has now worked out, albeit with a delay of almost six months."
What the Minister understandably welcomes is, in reality, extremely unpleasant. Only 55 unaccompanied children and adolescents between the ages of 7 and 17 landed at Hanover Airport. From there they were moved to a secret accommodation in the district of Osnabrück. Redirected. Because of Corona, they are quarantined there for 14 days. Thereafter, the distribution is carried out among the Länder. Fourteen children remain in Lower Saxony. In total, Germany wants to take in 300 to 450 unaccompanied minors. The GroKo in Berlin could not agree on more. Note: Germany, with a population of 82 million, is taking in only a few hundred young refugees in need. A ridiculous number.
EU countries are at odds over the reception of unaccompanied children and young people. A disgrace!
The committed Boris Pistorius cannot be held accountable for this small number of refugee children. The real difficulties lie in the dispute between the EU Member States. Some Eastern European countries, such as Poland and Hungary, do not want to take in refugees at all. After long and controversial negotiations, some Western European countries were finally prepared to take in a total of 1,600 unaccompanied young people. What a disgrace to the EU of 450 million people - without Britain. And of the planned quota, only those mentioned have so far arrived in Lower Saxony and 12 in Luxembourg. The other willing host countries, such as France and the other Benelux countries, are delaying entry. Reason: the Corona crisis. Is this the humanity much invoked in Sunday speeches as the common value of Europe?
The Greek islands are full of anti-human conditions for the refugees
The catastrophic situation on the Greek islands is clear from a letter dated 11 April 2020 addressed to the Federal Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer. A total of 13 national and regional non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have signed the letter, including: Mission Lifeline , borderline-europa ,Brot für die Welt - Jugend, Refugee Law Clinic Deutschland, Alarm Phone, Komitee für Grundrechte und Demokratie and various state refugee councils, including the Lower Saxony Refugee Council.
The letter first mentions figures on the situation of refugees on the Greek islands: about 42,000 refugees are housed there in camps that were originally planned for about 6,000 people. About a third are minors, many of them under the age of 12.
The exact situation in the camps is described in the letter as follows:
"People are housed in tents in the tightest of spaces... Fires break out again and again... The hygienic conditions in the camps are catastrophic. According to reports by Doctors Without Borders, toilets are used by an average of 160 people, while other sources say as many as 250 people. In some cases, there is only one faucet for 1,300 people - and not even soap. Even as a layman, one can imagine the danger of such conditions with regard to the spread of diseases... especially of course now, in times of the Corona pandemic... Furthermore, the possibilities of medical care are very limited. The only way to prevent an outbreak of Corona with serious consequences is to immediately evacuate all the people living there... Act now in the name of humanity and save lives!"
As far as is known, the letter from the aforementioned NGOs has not been answered by the Ministry of the Interior. The political groups in the Bundestag have also not commented on this.
Germany has sufficient reception capacity, but is waiting for a European solution
One of the arguments against immigration from the Greek islands is the limited reception capacity of the homes for refugees in the municipalities in Germany. According to research by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), there is room for 65,000 people. All 42,000 refugees from the camps on the Greek islands could therefore be taken in immediately. The Migration Minister of Thuringia, Dirk Adams, told the German Press Agency (dpa) that his country could take in 200 to 250 unaccompanied children. How does the Federal Government comment on this? It seeks a European solution to avoid criticism of a "German single-handedness". But the government knows that there will be no European unification in the foreseeable future. Is German single-handedness, therefore, a transparent excuse? Isn't there a fear of a further shift to the right in future elections? The AfD sends a nice greeting.
Applications for family reunification are being rejected due to time limit being exceeded
The action of Boris Pistorius, which has been highly praised by the media, unfortunately obscures the view of reality. Young people seeking protection with family members in Germany who are in an asylum procedure are, in principle, entitled to reunification under the EU's Dublin Regulation. This group is widely known and documented. There is no need for a complicated procedure for their inclusion. However, Greek authorities often fail to meet deadlines due to congestion. This is particularly the case on the islands. In Germany the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF)( the federal office responsible for migration and refugees (BAMF) then systematically rejects such applications. The Refugee Council of Lower)Saxony refers to this in its communication of 14 April 2020 and proves this with figures. In 2019, 86 percent of applications were rejected by the BAMF because of the deadline being exceeded. The BAMF is subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior. It is not known how many unaccompanied young people will have to remain in the inhumane camps on the Greek islands because of missed deadlines.
Cover photo: Pixabay, photo in text: Constanze Abel