No-Lager Action Week

Call for No Lager action week from 19 to 27 June 2021

The corona-pandemic is another factor escalating the situation inside refugee-camps at the EU-external borders as well as those in Germany. 

While for the public the main strategy to fight the virus has been social distancing and the reduction of personal contacts meanwhile people living in refugee camps are continuously being forced to live together on very close quarters, and have to share spaces for sleeping, eating, and washing with other inhabitants. To contain any occurring infections inside the camps NRW also ordered so called “Ketten-Quarantänen” (chain quarantine). Rather than protecting refugees through decentralized housing, they are continuously exposed to the risk of getting infected and due toincubation time and following up infections, they can be locked up for several weeks. 

This procedure drastically demonstrates the systemic discrimination of refugees who are denied their right to health and life during a dangerous pandemic.

This is not only due to the challenges of the corona crisis, for years this unequal treatment is institutionalized in the so called “system lager”. Massive tightening of the law has made it possible to systemically keep camp inhabitants from exercising their fundamental rights to privacy education, medical standard treatment or job opportunities.

Many people face up to two years of confinement, constant restrictions and control, monotony as well as fear of deportation and violence. In the secluded camps the inhabitants have factually no means of contact with the general public, political and social networking with other refugees proves to be very difficult. 

Their isolation is politically desired and designed to enable a smooth process of deportation from mainly NRW-Landesunterkünften (NRW-state camps) as well as preventing a public discussion about the camps that are isolated from society.

This routine, of deprivation of rights and isolation of refugees, must be stopped. It is due time for a public debate about reception and humane accommodation of refugees.

Our goal with the “No-lager-week-of-action” is to get public attention, to bring together and organize antiracist activists and groups as well as to show solidarity with all people inside the camps.

Take part in the actions!
Right to stay for all!

Close the camps – break isolation!

Refugee camps in NRW and the coronavirus

Tightness, isolation and poor infrastructure make you sick. Not only, but especially during a pandemic.

Anyone who submits an application for asylum in Germany will not be punished with camp detention for less than six months. In NRW it is sometimes up to two years. This is provided for in the phased plan of the state government.From this regulation, which is intended to relieve the municipalities and facilitate deportations, but above all to deter them, the state government does not deviate even during the corona pandemic.

While crowds of people everywhere else are to be avoided, six people in collective accommodation have to share a bedroom and hundreds of other showers and dining rooms. As might be expected, many became infected under these conditions. At the height of the second wave, practically half of all state accommodations in NRW alone were under quarantine.

The situation was exacerbated at the beginning of the pandemic by both poor communication and a lack of infrastructure. Almost nowhere were there protective masks, almost everywhere too little disinfectant. The state government in NRW tried to accommodate particularly vulnerable people in youth hostels more safely due to age or pre-existing conditions and thus to equalize the occupancy overall. On the other hand, transfers to municipalities were suspended until June 2020, so that the regular facilities became fuller rather than emptier.
An Iranian refugee reported that although the meal times in his camp were extended so that not everyone was sitting in the canteen at once, at the same time there was only stable Wi-Fi in a single room in the facility, so that all residents were snubbing there when they wanted to find out about COVID-19 or know how their relatives and friends were doing. 

Onur Şahin, who himself contracted coronavirus during the second wave, reports on the question of whether the situation in his refugee shelter in Kassel has changed in the second wave:

“Nothing has changed in micromanagement. They have only hung pieces of paper on the walls: keep your distance, cover your mask, nose and mouth. And wash hands. That was the only measure. They had no structured plans for the various camps. When there was a corona case in October, they didn’t tell us anything about it.”

And Mariama Jatta remembers:

” When Corona started, they announced in the city: “Okay, there is this new regulation in Germany that only a few people are allowed to come together. If there are more, you have to come from the same household.” I thought to myself, “Okay, this law was made, and they completely forgot about us.” You have not considered at all that this is a budget of 700 people. Because this is a budget. We share the kitchen, we share the bathroom, we have contact, the children play together. And no precautions have been taken. We had no disinfectants, no information. We weren’t properly informed about the Corona rules and anything else. There was no communication whatsoever.”

Quotes from: Endangered life. Everyday life and protest in refugee shelters during the corona pandemic

Also in the vaccination campaign, refugee residents of concentration camps in NRW run the risk of getting out of sight and out of mind: Although they are listed in the prioritization group 2 of the vaccination ordinance, the state government of NRW had not even managed to agree on a concept for the information and vaccination of the residentsby April 2021. 

It was only through public pressure that the relevant ministries started to move the matter. But even at the end of May, very few residents of state accommodation received a vaccination offer, let alone full vaccination protection. 

The isolation of the residents has been significantly exacerbated by the corona pandemic: the visit of volunteers or friends to the facility is prohibited, and in the event of quarantine, it is no longer possible for those affected to leave the premises. Even in “normal” times, the situation is characterized by massive isolation: school attendance for children, training to learn the language, get to know friends, find work, start therapy, arrive and come to rest…. everything that would actually be urgently needed and important after an often traumatic escape is not possible from the camp or almost not. 

At the same time, deportations are repeatedly taking place from the camps, which were also never interrupted during the pandemic. For all other residents and especially for children, witnessing early morning raids and deportations is an enormous stress. Many suffer from insomnia and develop psychological problems. 

We are therefore of the opinion that the obligation to camp refugees should be abolished. Collective accommodation for refugees can only be a place to stay in the first few weeks for those who otherwise have no accommodation. However, the purpose of camps beyond this first accommodation is solely to simplify the administration and control of people, to simplify deportation measures and to provide deterrence. This must not be a reason to force people in isolation and in sickening and dangerous conditions to rob them of months and years of their lives in which they cannot build a future for themselves.

If, at the end of the day, mentally worn-out people come to the communities, no one is helped. 

Call to participate!

Invitation for the inhabitants of ZUE

We are from different anti-racist organisations, who oppose the big, centralized camps and fight for the humane accommodation of refugees. Everyone should have a place to stay and a future here.

Between the 19th and 27th of June 2021 there will be events in several cities (Aachen, Bochum, Düsseldorf, Köln, Münster…) For example, a demonstration in Düsseldorf at the 25th at 5pm.

If you want to share how life in the camp is from your perspective, you can send your texts, drawings and photographs or videos (no recognizable faces uf possible) to us using the following email address: info@no-lager.eu

The material will be published on our website: http://www.no-lager.eu/. There you will also find all the information about the different events in the cities.