Life In Berlin: Moabit Hilft Protests

20 minutes ago

 Long waiting periods, shelters lacking food and linen, and still no official full-time medical service. "Enough!" chant demonstrators gathered at Alexanderplatz. 

Their concerns regard the conditions at the Lageso, the registration office for asylum seekers in Moabit. The protest is organized by Moabit Hilft. For months the local aid initiative has been assisting refugees for up to 15 hours a day, seven days a week. 

"Die Menschenwürde für Geflüchtete zu bewahren…" comes from the speaker. 

Speakers at the Moabit Hilft demonstration.
Credit Monika Müller-Kroll

 The common goal is to preserve the human dignity for fugitives, says one speaker of Moabit Hilft. Their protest is directed at Berlin's mayor Michael Müller and the Senator for Health and Social Affairs Mario Czaja.

"We are not here for complaining. We are asking for help on behalf of the refugees, because we can't deal with all the complicated procedures anymore, all the chaos around the process for applying for asylum," says Yousef Alkhatib, a refugee from Syria. At the demonstration, he talks of crude security personnel at the Lageso and a bureaucratic odyssey. Hundreds of people joined the demonstration in front of the Rote Rathaus. 

Markus Syperek says, "I just miss the reactions of the politicians and that's why I am here and try to support. I think everybody who is here is important."

Syperek lives in Moabit. He tells me he walks by refugees sleeping on the sidewalk almost every day. Just recently a second registration facility has opened in Berlin to help first time arrivals, but Syperek says, "of course something has changed, but for the old ones who have been waiting for weeks nothing has changed."

Berliner Svenja Heise volunteered at the Lageso back in August. She thinks the politicians have missed the chance to find a reasonable solution for the refugees coming to Berlin. 

She says, "now, so many people are here and they need to be accommodated quickly and not only in tents, which is much too dangerous because of the cold." 

Demonstrators at Alexanderplatz.
Credit Monika Müller-Kroll

Another demonstrator, William Kwiatkowski from Scotland shares his perspective: "I feel in the whole the reaction has been pretty good in Germany compared to the U.K., where people are much more hostile to immigrants. But I think it's very easy for us, even for people who support the decision to allow refugees into Germany to then do nothing. The problem starts here, how to help these people."

Migrants and refugees who have just recently arrived benefit from Berlin's new registration facility in Wilmersdorf. The challenge going forward is how to help those asylum seekers who have been in limbo for months.