Statement from the refugees in Jena

Deutsche Version

On Monday, June 3, 2024, we went to the Ministry of the Interior in Erfurt to talk to Staatssekretärin Katharina Schenk (SPD) and Integrationsbeauftragte Mirjam Kruppa (Grüne).

First of all, we again described the problems in the Hermsdorf camp (Erstaufnahme-Lager), which are already well known: We were housed there for months with 700 people in a warehouse, had no privacy, too little and very bad, sometimes even spoiled food, almost no access to health care and suffered racist humiliation from the camp staff. Especially the camp manager Tobias Krauße acted in a racist way very often. We just want to give one example: One person who has already spent 9 months in Hermsdorf went to Mr. Krauße to ask about his legal situation and because he has severe health problems (reported by a doctor in Germany). Mr. Krauße asked for his ID. When he saw that this person was from Palestine he threw the ID into his face and told him: „You’re from Palestine, you’re gonne be the last person to leave from here! You are a terrorist!“

Our ID cards were also not updated and some of us have been without valid papers since March, because we don’t know which government agency is responsible for processing this data and when we go to Ausländerbehörde or to social workers or DRK they tell us that they are not responsible for your procedures.

In addition for months, in some cases for more than a year, we have been denied basic rights, as is always the case as long as refugees live in an Erstaufnahme-Lager without their asylum application being recognized: We have no health insurance, no German courses, are not allowed to work and are not allowed to leave the Landkreis, not even to visit our family in the neighboring Landkreis. That’s why we’ve long been calling for accommodation in a Heim (Gemeinschaftsunterkunft) where we are granted all these rights. Some of us have even already received recognition from the BAMF, but we are still being held in the camp, which is not lawful.

Last Friday, on May 31, 2024, we were taken to Jena, to the former women’s clinic. Some of us had been told that it was finally a Heim. Others already knew that it was another camp, so they refused to go to this camp because they would suffer again from the same things they suffered in Hermsdorf. But they were forced to get on the bus to Jena anyway. They were threatened by the camp manager Tobias Krauße that otherwise the police would be called, that their asylum procedure would be terminated or even that their positive decision would be withdrawn by the BAMF!

When we arrived in Jena, we refused to accept this new fraud! It would have been the third or even fourth „Erstaufnahme-Lager“ for all of us to be taken to. We no longer want to live in a camp – no matter in which city – but finally in a Heim so that we can take German courses and work, visit our relatives, receive health insurance and social benefits! We want our basic rights, because we are people, not things!

So we didn’t go into the camp, but demonstrated peacefully. Over the weekend we were taken in by people showing solidarity in their homes. We also spoke to friends in various Heims in Thuringia and counted at least 104 places that are free there. We told all this to Ms. Schenk yesterday and showed her the list of free places. Many supporters had already sent her an email with our demand for the transfer to a Heim and the list of free places. But she said she didn’t understand what we wanted and that it was the first time she had seen the list. She said that it is a great success of hers that Hermsdorf is closed and that it is much better in Jena. We repeat: it’s not about the city for us. We no longer want to live in a LAGER (EAE), we want to receive our rights and finally get into a HEIM (GU)!!! We would even stay in Hermsdorf for another month or two if we had the security of finally living in a Heim afterwards.

Ms. Schenk took a photo of the list with the 104 free places, but she said she couldn’t just allocate us to the free places because it’s up to the municipalities and cities to decide. She said she would check with everyone, but she couldn’t promise anything. Also, 2 or 3 people can’t get transfers, but they always wait until many accommodations are found somewhere, for example, and then a few dozen people, between 25 and 40, get relocation together.

Some of us could also live with relatives in Thuringia who still have space in their apartments. But she just said you can try. She couldn’t give us any firm promises. And she couldn’t tell us who to turn to either.

Who is responsible for finally getting us into a Heim? The Landesverwaltungsamt. But who at the Landesverwaltungsamt? We’ve already asked there too and received no answer.

Can’t you give us the same rights and opportunities in the house in Jena as in a Heim? No.

The only promise she made was that there would be no negative consequences for us for staying with friends instead of in the camp over the past weekend. But if we don’t go to the reception center in Jena, we will be considered missing, and our asylum procedures will be halted. An employee of the camp in Jena had threatened that we would receive a „red dot“ in our asylum procedure. Ms. Schenk knew nothing about this and wanted to take care of it.

She also said that the camp in Jena would be closed at the end of June, then we would probably be transferred to a Heim. Could she give us that in writing? No. But the camp in Jena was already supposed to be closed at the end of May. Hermsdorf was supposed to be closed in January, then March, then May, now on June 20. Who can guarantee that this one month won’t turn into several months? She said we would have to trust.

How are we supposed to trust when we’ve been lied to again and again for so many months? We told her: „We can no longer believe what you say.“ She then asked: „Then why are you here if you don’t believe me?“ Who else are we supposed to turn to?

She only ever said it wasn’t her responsibility, but not who was responsible. She simply ignored many of our questions, they made her angry.

For her, we are in the camp in Jena, no matter what we do. We could also sleep on the street, she doesn’t care. So our supporters offered to let us stay in their apartments for another 1 to 2 weeks until a solution could be found. But Ms. Schenk said: „No, that’s not possible!“ And if we don’t go to the reception center in Jena (we repeat for the second time), we will be considered missing by BAMF, and our asylum procedures will be stopped. So it looks like we’d rather sleep on the street than at home with our friends or in a Heim! We say very clear: The only reason we went back to the Camp was the threat of Ms. Schenk that we would be thrown out of ayslum procedures.

We are very angry that we are being treated like this and denied our basic rights as human beings!

But we’re also grateful for all the solidarity we experienced these days! We would like to thank all the people who showed their solidarity during this time to support us: Those who invited us to their private homes, Seebrücke Jena for the long term support in Hermsdorf and now in Jena, the alliance Rechtsruck Stoppen who gave us space in their squatted auditory, Fridays for Future who let us speak on their Climate Strike Demonstration, the theatre die Schotte in Erfurt for taking us in on Monday, Netz der Rebellion for spreading our demands and so many more.

We say: We will keep protesting until we get our transfers to Heims and if we don’t get it by the end of June we will come to Erfurt again to protest in front of the Innenministerium.

Residents of the EAE Women’s Clinic Jena, previously of the EAE Hermsdorf