Can you do Ziebart over rust
You can eat and sleep here, nothing else
It is an unadorned, narrow room with walls made of pressboard in which the young migrant from Africa lives. When she recently had her child, she was given a room for herself and the baby in the Motardstrasse refugee home in Berlin (Spandau district). According to the law, a person is entitled to six square meters of living space in such facilities.
The baby is in the cot, a television is on. The child's father? "He's in Africa." Did she flee pregnant? "Yes, and it was hell". The bright neon tube on the ceiling disturbs the baby, he screams, the mother switches off the light, only the flickering television, a present from friends, still lights up the room. The woman has lived here for three months. She hopes that her asylum application will be accepted at some point.
First comes the human
The home on Motardstrasse is in the Spandau industrial area on the outskirts of Berlin. A Vattenfall power plant produces electricity right next door, a sewage treatment plant is in the south, and municipal cleaning services dispose of their hazardous waste nearby. No citizen gets lost here - only cars race by. Berlin human rights groups describe the home as "the worst camp in the capital". Anyone who ends up here only receives benefits in kind.
Since 1998, the home has been used as accommodation for newly arrived refugees in the asylum procedure, as it is called in the official language. Behind barbed wire, the refugees live in five container blocks made of gray sheet metal, three stories high. Such a dwelling would be unreasonable even as temporary accommodation for workers on assembly. But more than 400 people live in Motardstrasse.
According to the law, they should last three months, no longer. But since 2006 more and more long-term refugees who previously had an apartment have been quartered. You have to stay until "matters are resolved". Some of them have been living in Motardstrasse for a year.
The social welfare offices of the districts can proceed at their own discretion in accordance with Section 1a of the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act. If a clerk is of the opinion that a refugee is not doing enough to clarify a situation - for tolerated migrants this means everything from obtaining the papers to deportation - he can send the refugee to Motardstrasse.
"You can eat and sleep here, nothing else; over time you lose your life energy," says a resident from Sudan, who does not want to read his name in the newspaper. Instead of cash, the refugees receive benefits in kind, "medically unavoidable help" and a bed in one of the narrow rooms. You could go outside the door. But where? To the industrial district? You only get money for underground tickets in exceptional cases.
"People come first" is the motto of the AWO association, which runs the home and apparently has trouble complying with legal minimum standards: Many cupboards cannot be locked. Necessary repairs should be done "immediately", the state office prescribes, but this does not always correspond to the customs of the AWO. The repair of a kitchen stove, for example, has been postponed for several weeks, say the residents.
The shower rooms are lockable without a lock, only with a hook. Rust and lime adorn taps in bathrooms and kitchens. There is little that the legal standard allows refugees here: neither table nor chair are provided for the kitchens - the AWO sticks to it.
The Dussmann Group has taken over catering for people from Asia, the Middle East and Africa and supplies ready-made meals in aluminum packs. Critics doubt whether these are "vitamin-rich meals", as the minimum standard prescribes. Social Senator Heidi Knake-Werner (Die Linke) assures that "personal and cultural characteristics" are taken into account when preparing meals. However, the consideration of culture and mentality seems to be limited to not offering Muslims any pork. Residents say that they often do not know whether it is meat or fish what is being served to them. One migrant says: "This food makes you sick - those who can try to get some money to go shopping."
Outside, the huge cloud of the power plant hovers over the roofs of the containers. In response to inquiries from the Berlin Refugee Council and the Left Party, Giyasettin Sayan, Senator Knake-Werner had the air pollution measured in the summer of 2007. The values were not published. Residents say they had nosebleeds and headaches in the mornings.
Entrenched behind benefits in kind
Nobody is forcing the social welfare offices to direct refugees to Motardstrasse, but the Pankow district sends a particularly large number of them. Welfare City Councilor Lioba Zürn-Kasztantowicz (SPD) appeased: "Sick people are not admitted to Motardstrasse", but a heart patient from her district came to the home after a heart attack. He has been living in a double room for two years and has to live with the Dussmann meal plus 20 euros in cash. Dieter Ziebarth, volunteer supervisor and pastor in retirement, is stunned: "The doctors have often said that this man needs a diet and money for food. But the social welfare office is stubborn, holed up behind the requirement for benefits in kind." When Ziebarth talks about Motardstrasse, he gets angry: "There is a cold expulsion of refugees at work by unnecessarily worsening living conditions." Anyone seeking protection here would hardly get the bare essentials for life. In the last week of October 2007, a person committed suicide in the desolate containers. Meanwhile, the young migrant from Africa waits every day for mail from the authorities: She continues to hope to finally be recognized as an asylum seeker and leave the industrial area around Motardstrasse behind.
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