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German authorities displace Afghan refugees to accommodate Ukrainians

27th May 2022

Nadine Osman

Hundreds of Afghan refugees in Germany were evicted last month to accommodate a large number of their Ukrainian counterparts. The Washington-based Foreign Policy magazine reported that many Afghans have received eviction notices from German authorities, with some being given only 24 hours’ notice.

“The evictions purposefully were not publicized. Some people had lived in their homes for years and were removed from their social networks, including children who were moved to areas far from their schools,” Tareq Alaows, a board member of Berlin Refugee Council, said.

Alaows said the government justified the evictions by claiming that Afghans were evicted from so-called “arrival centers” where they should only be staying short term anyway. But some families had been living there for years, while other families were living in accommodation other than arrival centers.

“Few people’s living conditions improved, but most were afraid to speak up, afraid it could impact their immigration status,” Alaows said, explaining that around 10 residences had been emptied in Berlin.

Eviction decisions were made by Berlin’s Senate Department for Integration, Labour, and Social Services, who said they were “based on operationally necessary and difficult considerations” and that there is no alternative because Ukrainians, including many women and children, need a roof over their heads and a bed.

“We regret that this caused additional hardships to the Afghan families [and that] the affected people had to move out of their familiar surroundings and now possibly have to keep up with their social connections with great difficulty,” said Stefan Strauss, the Department’s Press Secretary.

In Berlin, there are 83 different refugee accommodations, which currently house 22,000 refugees. With the influx of Ukrainians, these had to be consolidated into a few defined arrival centres to simplify the process.

Strauss said evicted Afghans were given other “permanent” accommodation of equivalent quality, excluding shared bathrooms and kitchens.

However, social workers have voiced frustration over the mistreatment of Afghans, as refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.

The report added that most people seeking refuge in Germany enter the asylum system, which grants them temporary residency that is re-evaluated every six months. “Depending on the situation in their home country, extensions, and eventually asylum, are often denied.”
Germany has officially admitted 160,000 Ukrainian refugees since the start of the conflict on February 24.

However, the real figure is thought to be much higher due to visa-free access between the two countries and lack of checks on the German-Polish border

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