Petition from Tempelhof refugee shelter residents regarding the Container Village

A new container village designed to house refugees is being erected in from of the Tempelhof Airport hangars where they currently live. GSBTB Open Art Shelter volunteers interviewed residents and heard their concerns about the container village. This petition is the result of those interviews.

Petition from residents of NUK Flughafen Tempelhof to the relevant authorities, to guarantee a respectful transition to the Container Village and to ensure the intermediate and long-term wellbeing of all residents

6 April 2017

To the Landesamt für Flüchtlingsangelegenheiten, Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales, Senatsverwaltung für Finanzen, Senatsverwaltungen für Stadtentwicklung und Umwelt, LAG bezirkliche Flüchtlingskoordination Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Tamaja Soziale Dienstleistungen GmbH, and Berliner Immobiliengesellschaft,

We, the residents of Hangar 2, Tempelhof NUK, who are soon to be relocated to the Container Village on Tempelhofer Feld, over which we believe you have some power and influence, kindly ask you to note the following concerns and recommendations, and to act on them as soon as possible as these are the implementations of basic human rights rather than luxuries.

Respecting the integrity of family & community:

1. That our families living across Berlin and Germany can be reunited in the Container Village; for example, parents and adult or teenage children who are currently living in separate camps could live together at Tempelhof. In the case of not having many close relatives here, we kindly ask for this opportunity to extend to cousins as it can greatly help with loneliness and detachment from family, heritage and culture.

2. That there will be just one family in each Tempohome. When a family consists of two people (e.g. husband and wife or mother and daughter), we ask that they be guaranteed the privacy of their own bathroom and kitchen and have the right to use freely the additional space.

3. That there be no more than two people in one room and therefore no more than 4 people in one tempohome. When a family has more than 4 members be guaranteed more tempohomes located next to each other.

4. That we be able to receive visitors and guests (also overnight), which could be family members or friends without any limitations imposed.

5. That close family members (children and parents) who are visiting would be able to stay with us for longer periods of time, even if that means over a period of a few weeks. Separation from each other is nowadays one of the main sources of suffering and psychological disturbance for many of us.

6. That we have a say in who lives next to whom, based on the strong friendships and sense of community we have developed with other residents over the past months. We wish not to become isolated but to feel safe among our immediate neighbours.  For example, there is an intention from the single women, including single mothers and their children, to live together. This is because the presence of the men causes discomfort and insecurity for them, plus the women have developed ways of supporting each other.

Respecting basic human dignity, including the rights and needs of different groups:

7. That the move from the Hangars to the Container Village be announced well in advance.

8. That the move occurs before Ramadan, as this would allow us to cook our own food and celebrate in a more comfortable communal setting for the first time in two years. Alternatively, if it is not possible to move before Ramadan, we would prefer to hold off until after Ramadan, as during this period we are fasting during the day and therefore lacking energy (i.e. the move should occur before 26.05.17 or after 26.06.17).

9. That elderly and infirm people be accommodated as close to the gate as possible.

10. That containers include a cooling system (at least a fan), and if that is not possible, that elderly or infirm people (such as those with heart conditions, or who have undergone brain surgery etc.) be accommodated in a different type of housing, a housing that can/would serve their specific needs.

11. That the Container Village includes a safe space exclusively for women and girls.

12. That there be a gate allowing direct access to the park.

13. That washing machines will be spread equally across the premises, so that people need not carry heavy loads across long distances.

14. That residents be offered employment or work experience in the Container Village when possible, e.g. cleaning, maintenance, security, childcare, building and construction.

15. That there be no stickers, signs etc. instructing on how to use toilets or any other signs which humiliate us by suggesting inferiority and a lack of basic education, manners and/or understanding of culture.

16. That there be high-speed wireless internet connection available to ensure our access to information, platforms fostering learning and the search for jobs, apartments, entertainment and, above all, contact with our relatives.

Respecting our right to information and to participate in decisions affecting our everyday lives and near and long-term future:

17. That we be provided (and kept up-to-date) with information on long-term plans to solve the housing problem, such as relocation to the countryside or urban social housing.

18. That we be provided (and kept up-to-date) with information on plans for the integration of newcomers into the wider community (specifically, addressing the issue of ghettoisation).

19. That no further investments be made that would turn the temporary homes into a long-term housing solution.

20. That the Container Village will be closed no later than the end of 2019 as has been promised, and that every effort will be made to help us find proper accommodation by that time.

In the event that a particular request from this list cannot be accommodated, that we be given an explanation and invited to discuss possible alternatives.

We kindly expect written response addressed to us as a group living at Hangar 2, Notunterkunft Flughafen Tempelhof, Columbiadamm 10, 12101 Berlin and as a copy to the organisation that supports us, Give Something Back to Berlin, Lenaustrasse 4, 12047 Berlin.

Sincerely,

The undersigned residents of Hangar 2, Notunterkunft Flughafen Tempelhof

Editor’s note: As of 10 April, 66 residents have signed this petition. Many have also take copies of the petition to continue collecting signatures themselves.