Open letter on inhuman refugee accommodation in Göttingen

Dear Lord Mayor Köhler,
Dear Mrs. „head of social affairs“ Broistedt, [title might be wrong! Mrs., Ms., …?]

On behalf of many refugees in Göttingen and especially the current residents of the various refugee shelters, we address this letter to you out of a very concrete and urgent concern. We turn to you because no responsible institution wants to see our needs and problems, let alone solve them.

For one year now, the city has decided to close the prison-like mass accommodation Siekhöhe. You have apparently realised that this kind of accommodation does not do justice to our dignity as human beings. But now a year has passed – a year in which the shelter Schützenanger was already uninhabitable and closed, and we ask ourselves the question: What has the city done, what have you done to create a better shelter for us than Siekhöhe?

In addition to the Siekhöhe camp, the City of Göttingen also operates newer accommodation facilities, including Hannah-Voigt-Strasse, Carl-Gieseke-Strasse and Europaallee. It should be noted that some of these accommodations were newly built and are regarded as models of how to do it right. But here too, unfortunately, we have to admit that humane living conditions are not intended for us. In the apartments, up to six people are distributed in three small rooms – of course, life is made more difficult if we do not have the same rhythm of life, religion, opinions, ideas of cleanliness and much more as our randomly chosen flatmates. Would you like to share a room with a stranger? Neither would we.

But the injustice does not end with the rooms. The so-called „security service“ is feared among us: there have already been several attacks or harassments, some of us have even complained of persecution down to the toilet. Also the accommodation administration is often not well-disposed towards us. We are regularly confronted with arbitrary room and apartment changes as well as checks. If one does not open the front door quickly after knocking, the door is opened. The right to inviolability of the home according to Article 13 GG does not seem to apply to us because we are treated as second-class people. The situation in the home is not only unbearable, it also makes us ill. Many of us have not been able to rest since they moved to Göttingen. Many are constantly tired, others are sad up to depression.

Our living conditions are made more difficult not only by the accommodation in mass accommodation, but also by our regular appointments with the social welfare office and the foreigners authority. In the foreigners authority we are treated incredibly badly and partly extremely racist, this has been known for years and extends up to the management. We are regularly shouted at and denigrated, complaints are dismissed and some of us do not dare to go there without a German escort. But also the social welfare office does not make it easy for us. As far as the housing situation is concerned, we are sometimes confronted with arbitrary behaviour. How is it that a refugee finds a private home and the social welfare office forbids this person to move in, but in other cases allows another person to do so? The city’s maximum rent for a private apartment is also unrealistically low. If a family of several finds a suitable apartment, a tenancy agreement often fails because of resentment on the part of the apartment owners, because of rules on the part of the property management that contradict the standards of the social welfare office – for example, it is occasionally not permitted for six to move into a three-room apartment – or simply because of the arbitrariness of the social welfare office. This situation has kept some of us imprisoned in the accommodation for years.

Last week we had to bitterly realize in the Göttinger Tageblatt that the city of Göttingen does not intend to create new living space for us because there seems to be room for all of us. This assessment could not be further from reality! For months to years we have been complaining about these unspeakable conditions and the city administration allows itself to present this situation as acceptable. When Mrs Broistedt talks about housing mediation, she probably means permissions for moving in, because the authorities practically do not support us in our search for accommodation. There is talk of a welcome culture, but we are allowed to live in unacceptable conditions.

We urge the Göttingen city administration and you personally to take our problems seriously and deal with them. Therefore we demand:

Immediate stop of any arbitrary controls in the accommodations!
A right to complaints without subsequent harassment and criminalization of our protest!
Stop spending money on our isolation in blockhouses!
A right to dignified and private living for all people!
A right to self-determined life!

We cordially invite you to visit us in the accommodations and to form an independent and neutral picture of our life situation.

We look forward to hearing from you in the near future on how you can remedy the situation of our accommodation.

Yours sincerely

the residents of the Göttingen refugee shelters

Email: Wohnungen-fuer-