Our summarized translation of the Bavarian Refugee Council’s (Bayerischer Flüchtlingsrat) demands for further action to protect refugees and the staff in camps:
Protect Refugees from Corona!
Refugee Council demands extensive measures to protect refugees and staff in camps.
Infection protection must be first priority!
Refugees are particularly threatened by an COVID-19 infection since they are living in communal accommodations and AnKER-centers. Especially there the passing on of the virus can hardly be prevented. Safety distance and social contacts cannot be prevented at all. Sharing kitchens, bedrooms, canteens, bathrooms always means contact to other people. Additionally, refugees are expected to go to BAMF interviews, to trials and have appointments at foreigners’ registrations offices (Ausländerbehörde) and social assistance offices (Sozialamt).
Everywhere they have to encounter a large number of other refugees, offices’ and administrations’ staff, security, judges, interpreters. In order to prevent further spreading of the corona virus, the refugee council demands that refugees are granted health care, information and support, the cancellation of all appointments and deadlines, maintaining the current state of proceedings and the suspension of deportations.
Alexander Thal, spokesperson oft he Bavarian refugee council, explains: “After we have overcome the current corona crisis we can continue to discuss humane living conditions of refugees in Bavaria, fair asylum procedures and a humane treatment at public authorities. But now the infection protection of refugees and the staff in the accomodations and authorities must be of first priority. The current crisis confirms our critique on large communal accomodations for refugees because they massively increase the risk of infectious deseases. As soon as the current crisis is over, the large accommodations have to be replaced by smaller, decentralized ones!”
The Bavarian Refugee Council thinks the following measures extremely necessary:
Health care and the free choice of doctors must be secured for all refugees.
Health care in case of infection
In case of infections, adequate care must be provided. Closing off sections of the building or the whole accommodation by security or police does not seem like protection but like arrest.
The Bavarian population is extremely worried about the dangers of the corona virus. All the more worried are refugees because of lacking of scarce knowledge of German, they are excluded from the flow of information. In cooperation with the health authority, information has to be translated quickly in all languages spoken in the camps for the refugees to read. Hotlines with interpreters for all refugees and migrants are necessary to directly answer all their questions.
Admission for all those who help
Volunteers report that they are not allowed to enter the camps, even though there is no official quarantine. It is absolutely necessary for them to enter the camps to help and inform the people inside about dangers, risks, and preventive measures.
Cancellation of all appointments
Appointments at the authorities are especially risky because there are always a lot of people waiting for a longer period of time. That is why all appointments at BAMF, Ausländerbehörde, Sozialamt and Verwaltungsgericht have to be cancelled to reduce the infection risk.
Suspension of deadlines
All deadlines have to be suspended. This way, refugees are not exposed to an unnecessary infection risk.
Unbureaucratic extension of identity documents
The non-bureaucratic extension of identity documents is very important and documents need to be delivered – if necessary, sent by post.
Social Security Benefits
We were told that some refugees were not allowed to enter Sozialämter (social assistance offices) because of infection risks. They were not paid their social security benefit. The payment of the benefits must be secured. If necessary within the camps.
Opening of more rooms
Many beds are empty. Even though there are rooms, they are locked. It is necessary to open them to secure the safety distance among the refugees.
Deportations are reduced but those happening pose the risk of an infection between all those who are involved. This may lead to a further spread of the virus in even more countries.
End detention pending deportation (Abschiebehaft)
We think that there are still refugees in custody even though they cannot be deported at the moment. Detention pending deportation must end and the imprisoned refugees must be released!