This is the English translation of the petition we have launched at WeAct. You can find the petition here (text in German). Sign it!
In the Corona crisis everyone is talking about protecting the most vulnerable members of society – we call on the Bremen Senate: Close the state reception centre for refugees in the Lindenstraße in Vegesack and create adequate, safe and decentralised housing – IMMEDIATELY!
In camps for refugees, many people are currently living together in very confined spaces. In Bremen, about 700 people live in the State Reception Centre in Vegesack, sometimes ten people in a room, families with children live there. This situation is more dangerous than usually because of the corona virus. As soon as people in the camp become infected, it is almost impossible to avoid that a large part of the other inhabitants also become infected. And also in camps live people with previous illnesses and elderly people for whom this situation can become life-threatening.
We demand to close this shelter immediately and to distribute all residents to other shelters, with single rooms for individuals and separate housing units for families! If this is not possible at short notice, we demand to book hotel rooms – hotels are currently empty anyway, use the space!
The closure of the camp is absolutely necessary. Further operation is irresponsible and racist. As many people as possible must be accommodated in smaller housing units to safely survive the duration of the Corona crisis. We call on the Bremen government to book hotel rooms in case of doubt (they are empty anyway) and to close the camp IMMEDIATELY.
Why is this important?
From Suhl we receive news from a camp where more than 500 people were forced into collective quarantine in a very confined space. Just like ZAST Lindenstraße for Bremen, this camp in Suhl is the central initial reception point for the state of Thuringia. The protests there due to lack of information and the unacceptable situation were suppressed by the police with a massive mobilization.
Members of Together we are Bremen report from the state reception centre that they feel poorly informed, that hygiene standards are still inadequate and that they feel they cannot protect themselves. Furthermore, due to the construction of the building, only about half of the rooms have mobile phone networks or WLAN. To be able to talk to family and friends, many need to be able to go into other people’s rooms, otherwise there is little distraction. It is racist to expect refugees to be able to live in such a place while everyone else is called upon to maintain maximum social distance and everything is done to prevent the majority population from becoming infected.
In addition, Lindenstrasse is not a safe place for its inhabitants. Even now, residents of Lindenstrasse report that the security personnel very quickly resort to physical violence. The operator AWO is aware of this, as is the social security authority, because some of the people affected, who are part of Together We Are Bremen, have already pointed this out. So far the outbreaks of violence by the security personnel have been tolerated and the attacked persons have been redistributed to other camps. With all the different burdens that the residents have to bear in the situation anyway, being locked up in such a place will massively intensify the conflicts. In the case of a collective quarantine, residents who have already been attacked and all others who “cannot cope” with the situation would be at the mercy of the violence and arbitrariness of the security personnel.
We call on the Bremen government, especially the Social Senator and the Health Senator, to act immediately. The Corona crisis will continue for months and it is practically impossible to prevent a major outbreak in such a place. This camp exposes people to the virus, it is absolutely degrading to live there under increased restrictions. There is no alternative to closure.
So far, the social authorities and the operator AWO are unimpressed and want to continue operating the camp with a few more hygiene measures. Despite this obviously intolerable situation, the health authority does not seem to intervene either. It is absolutely necessary to contradict this procedure in all clarity and thus also to show the inhabitants of the camp: You are not alone, you will not be forgotten, when we speak of solidarity, we mean solidarity with ALL! Without exceptions!
About Together we are Bremen: Together we are Bremen is an alliance of refugee and non-refugee activists. Starting with the successful protest for the closure of the camp in Gottlieb-Daimler-Straße in spring 2018, we are fighting for decent living conditions in Bremen for everyone. In order to stay here: all those who would like to do so.