Care for refugees: homeless in oberhavel

Two young refugees in Oberhavel have been without a permanent home for six months. The district rejects responsibility.

"Close-meshed care" by the job center? Or just fruitless waiting? Photo: imago images / CHROMORANGE

In the district of Oberhavel, two young people have been homeless for almost half a year without any solution in sight. Both had come to Brandenburg as underage unaccompanied refugees and had previously lived in youth welfare facilities in Hennigsdorf. Because they have no permanent residence, the job center pays out the benefits they are entitled to in daily rates.

"I drive to Oranienburg to the job center every day, take a waiting number, wait there for two to three hours and then get paid 14.13 euros," says 19-year-old Saifullah Jabarkhail. Under these circumstances, he says, the teenager was unable to continue his language course; moreover, he spends 5.40 euros a day on the ticket, leaving him only 8.70 euros to live on.

"They said they can’t do a monthly pass and monthly money payment until I have an apartment," he says. He usually spends his days at friends’ houses, but he can’t stay there at night, he says. "In the shared housing, visitors are only allowed to stay until 10 p.m., so at night I try to sit in somewhere warm," Jabarkhail says.

"We are beginning to get the impression that the authorities want to drive the young people out of Oberhavel by stalling tactics and depriving them of social services," says Simone Tetzlaff from the refugee counseling service Evangelischer Kirchenkreis Oberes Havelland. To this day, Jabarkhail has not received an answer to his application for the resumption of youth welfare. Together with the organization Youths without Borders, the Refugee Council Brandenburg and the Federal Association of Refugee Minors (BumF), the Refugee Counseling Service is calling on the Youth Welfare Office to immediately offer the young people a place to live.

The job center, on the other hand, claims a "close-meshed support", they try in intensive talks to place the young people in housing and work. Kirstin Fussan, who heads the youth department in Oberhavel, also rejects the refugee initiatives’ accusations. After the application for the resumption of youth welfare, they had immediately made an appointment, but it had been rejected.

The two young people had "gradually withdrawn from care" in the youth welfare facility. They had not been in the facility for nights on end and had not adhered to the house rules. They had also refused to be admitted to a homeless facility in Hennigsdorf. Thus, they had "forfeited their right to a homeless shelter."

Human right to housing

The refugee initiatives, on the other hand, claim the human right to housing. Jibran Khalil of Youths without Borders speaks of "failure to provide assistance," and Ulrike Schwarz of BumF criticizes that youth assistance is denied even though there is a risk to personal development.

Simone Tetzlaff from the Refugee Counseling Service considers it negligent that the Youth Welfare Office released the two from youth welfare into homelessness in the summer. "Even if there were conflicts in the facility, the youth welfare agencies should deal with them professionally," she says, referring to Fussan’s statement. "Refugee youth are often already very independent and should be encouraged and supported in their independence, not punished for it."