For the past years, the Heim in Potsdam was a model Heim on how the accommodation of refugees could be improved. Each family has their own apartment and two single persons share an apartment. The workers in the Heim are generally very supportive, for example, they assist refugees with applications for flats. Potsdam being the capital city of Brandenburg state served as an example to the other districts on integration by giving possibilities for the refugees to learn German.
Last year a second Heim opened especially for women. In this new Heim the atmosphere seems to be different. Women living there complain of being under strict rules. For example, they are not allowed to have private visitors and are pressurised to be inside by 8.30pm as if they were teenagers.
But, today the situation has become worse. The City of Potsdam is planning to open a third Heim. No! What they are planning now is not a Heim. They are planning to store us into containers in the Industrial area like goods. This is going to be a “Lager”.
For us refugee women – who are fighting in Women in Exile this is not acceptable.
From our experience in living in different Lagers in Brandenburg, we know how it feels to live in a Lager. Violence and assaults take place very often in conditions of difference of power. As the women are affected both by racist and sexist oppression, it is irresponsible to enforce this oppression by other dependences which result from the living conditions in asylum homes. Women and children suffer because of these living conditions, which make sick frequently .
We feel discriminated and cut off from the society. The decision to put refugee women into collective accomodation in the outskirts makes us to an object of stereotype dedication. We are confronted with men’s stereotypical conviction that the refugee women living in that place are at their disposal and we are discriminated and harrassed by their respectless offers.
Therefore we demand: Women out of these Lagers! Abolish all Lagers!
In Potsdam the city officials are pretending to be interested in being good hosts by welcoming refugees and immigrants and they are pretending to do their best to accommodate refugees in flats. It seems like they have failed to find flats for refugees because they are confronted with a shortage of housing and the housing market has become very expensive not only for refugees but even for the common person. That might be true, but then why don`t they build new houses instead of a new palace?
And, on the other hand, they came up with a new procedure which makes it very difficult for refugees to get a flat. Before they allow refugees to move from the Heim they have to go through an examination procedure to proof that they are able to live in their own flats. That examination procedure includes special interviews with Sozialamt and Ausländerbehörde.
Only when the staff of these institutions considers them to be fit for their own flats, for having privacy, they will get a chance to move out of the Lager.
Is this integration or discrimination? This is a definitely discrimination. We have crossed continents and sees on our own and they are checking if we are able to live in our own flats? We have been fighting against persecution and dictatorships and they doubt that we are able to organise our own lives! Of course we need support, we are in a foreign country but they are giving us exams instead of support.
From our experience in Potsdam we know that their intentions are good. This is why we appeal to the decision makers to abolish these procedures and to allow refugees to move out of the so called Heims whenever they want. And, at the same time we appeal to decision makers, not to put us into containers! They can use the 1.5million Euros which they are planning to spend for these containers to find effective means to accommodate us in flats. For example, paying estate agents or social workers to help us to find flats on the private housing market.
That is why we are asking you all to protest with us. „No Containers“!! „No Lager for Women and Children“!!, „Abolish all Lagers“!!