A row has erupted in Berlin over the accommodation of a group of deaf war refugees from Ukraine.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, the Berlin Association of the Deaf and the Refugee Council accused the Senate of wanting to separate the group of 180 people against their will and bring them to other parts of Germany. It’s “disrespectful” and ignores people’s specific needs. They had been assured that they would be allowed to stay in Berlin. Instead, the Senate now wants to “drive the people out of town.”
The Senate Social Affairs Department rejected that representation in a statement. People had not been promised that they would be allowed to stay in Berlin. On the contrary, the group was offered not to tear them apart and bring them all to Cologne, because there it was possible to stay together in hotels and there were structures for the deaf. There is a center for the deaf, day care centers and schools for those affected, as well as a course for the deaf – good conditions for rapid integration and involvement in the local “deaf community”.
Unfortunately, only 18 refugees accepted the offer, according to the social administration. Unfortunately, as it was not possible to keep the hotels in Cologne free any longer, this is no longer the case. “In this regard, everyone who deterred the deaf from continuing to Cologne contributed to the fact that the option of shared accommodation in Cologne hotels with a connection to the center for the deaf was made impossible. Cologne could have become a new home for these people.
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The Association of the Deaf and the Council for Refugees called on everyone involved to stay in Berlin. Instead, the deaf would be put under pressure. They were brought to “outlying accommodation with full catering without the possibility of cooking”, and their social benefits were cut. The social administration also contradicted these claims.
After arriving in Berlin, the people were initially temporarily accommodated in two hotels. However, the contract with the hotels has expired. 84 people for whom it was important to be accommodated together were accommodated on April 4 in a “full supply facility” of the State Office for Refugee Affairs in Pankow, which has the appropriate capacity. Medical care is guaranteed. On April 12, the Pankow Welfare Office initially granted people social benefits until April 18. Other deaf people in the group would have been accommodated privately.
The social administration reminded that among the refugees from Ukraine there are usually many seriously ill people, people with disabilities and people in need of care. In order to enable them to integrate, participate and receive adequate care in Germany in the medium and long term, the participation of various federal states is necessary. Berlin cannot do it alone. The Senate has established clear rules that apply to everyone in the same way.