According to Foreign Policy magazine, Afghan refugees living in Berlin have been moved out of their housing centers in order to make way for Ukrainians fleeing conflict in Ukraine. Authorities are struggling to provide housing for tens or thousands.
“The evictions purposefully weren’t publicized. Some people had lived in their homes for years and were ripped out of their social structures, including children who were moved to locations far from their respective schools,”Tareq alaows, who is a board member of Berlin Refugee Council, spoke to the outlet.
Some of the people who were moved to new apartments found their new places less ideal than they expected. One man was separated from his mother and two brothers while another woman found herself, her husband and two daughters relocated twice in March – once to a facility housing former criminals – before being settled in a hotel that doubled as a homeless shelter.
Germany took in around 12,000 Afghan refugees following the Taliban’s takeover last August, and reportedly planned on doubling that figure as of December. More than 31.6 million Ukrainians have arrived in Ukraine since February when Russia began its military offensive. In Berlin, 60,000 Ukrainians are registered.
Most of the most recent immigrants will be processed in Berlin before they are sent to Germany for accommodation. However, some refugees will stay in Berlin as there is limited space. According to Berlin’s Senate Department for Integration, Labor, and Social Services, the city has a total of 83 different accommodations for refugees, already housing some 22,000 people.
It is expensive to find accommodation for Afghans, as local authorities are keen to limit the number of Ukrainians living in certain processing centres. After a court revoked a price control bill, rent in the city has become 40% more costly than it was one year ago. Other forms of housing aren’t cheap either, with the German government paying around €4,500 ($4,877) per month for the hotel accommodation that the woman and her family are currently staying in.
Germans are more inclined to accept Ukrainian refugees than Afghans, according to polls. A poll taken last year found that 60% of respondents didn’t want their government to take in any more refugees. Even as then-Chancellor Angela Merkel announced plans to welcome tens of thousands of Afghans, Armin Laschet, the leader of Merkel’s CDU party, told voters that 2015 “must not be repeated,” referring to Merkel’s decision to welcome around a million Middle Eastern and African migrants.
However, in March 91% support taking in Ukrainian refugees. This, combined with Poland and Hungary – normally staunch opponents of immigration – taking in hundreds of thousands of displaced Ukrainians, has prompted liberal pundits and activists to accuse European nations of applying “double standards”Depending on the country they came from, refugees may be granted asylum.
“Of course it’s not the Ukrainians’ fault, but we have to reflect on our solidarity if it’s only targeting certain people,”Alaows spoke out about Foreign Policy. “The last months showed that different treatment of refugees is possible, and this needs to be systematically anchored in our society.”