Good morning, dear reader,
when Putin invaded Ukraine with his soldiers in February 2022, this triggered the largest refugee movement in Europe since the Second World War. In the meantime, around 1.2 million Ukrainians have been taken in in this country, more people than during the refugee crisis of 2015, which put Germany to the test and made a significant contribution to the AfD entering the Bundestag in 2017.
Didn’t you notice that? Wasn’t that a big topic in the media in the past few months?
This is not least due to the fact that volunteers and Ukrainian communities shoulder a large part of the burden. Families plaster already cramped apartments with air mattresses; Helpers open their doors to strangers. And thanks to an EU directive, the refugees do not have to apply for asylum and can work quickly. But many people are still fleeing rocket fire, murder and rape in the war zone.
In recent months, the number of asylum seekers from other countries such as Syria, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan has also increased again. According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, there were almost 218,000 in 2022 – as many as in 2016.
Municipalities are increasingly having to provide accommodation. And they’ve been moaning under the load for weeks. Because many a fire letter to state and federal politicians went unanswered, they are now doing it more and more publicly.
The capacities are limited, for example, wrote Hessian local politicians – including CDU members and Greens – to the Chancellor this week. “We are currently renting hotels and private accommodation again to deal with the situation.” Other administrations, for example those of the capital Berlin, are again accommodating people in tents, containers or gyms. Humane living looks different. Others now say simply: It’s no longer possible, we don’t have any more space.
And in federal politics? Hardly an issue – until now. Under the current pressure, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) promised on Sunday to convene a refugee summit between the federal and state governments this week. However, there was already such a summit in autumn. There, Faeser promised, among other things, to examine how the federal government could “support the municipalities again with real estate”. But now there are complaints from the states: what the federal government provides is often no longer suitable as accommodation.
Chancellor Scholz also wants to check – namely how those who do not need any protection can be deported more quickly. “Very solid agreements with countries of origin are now needed,” he said on Sunday. A requirement that local authorities also raise.
And undoubtedly there are problems with the consistent deportation of rejected asylum seekers. But Scholz’ checking is of little help to the municipalities, which now need quick and uncomplicated help.
The issue needs to be tackled at all levels if you don’t want to leave it to the right, who will happily ignite the flames. Right-wing extremists are already mobilizing for protests, especially in the affected areas. It already feels like a bitter déjà vu.
It would be one of many necessary aids if the traffic light government kept one of its big promises: it wanted to build 400,000 apartments a year in Germany – 100,000 of them social housing. Because in the refugee homes there is not only a lack of space for newcomers. Those who are actually allowed to move out often find no place to stay.
But the target was missed by a long way in 2022 and, according to expert estimates, it will not be reached in 2023 and 2024 either if things continue like this. It is urgently necessary to increase the pressure on the federal states and also to explore options outside of new construction – for example an extension of price maintenance in social housing. At the moment, more apartments are falling out of this segment every year than are being built.
Incidentally, the problem does not only affect newcomers: there are 1.1 million social housing units in Germany, but a good 11 million people are now entitled to such an apartment. That’s a depressing 1 to 10 ratio, years of desperation is programmed into the beneficiaries.
Both the federal and state governments have an obligation and must now pull together. Otherwise, refugee and housing issues will become dynamite for cohesion in Germany.
Germany’s most controversial party, the AfD, is celebrating its tenth birthday this Monday. 300 party officials and friends have been invited to Königstein in Hesse. Counter-protests have been announced, and local schools are giving the children free to be on the safe side. Many of the 18 founding fathers of the AfD will be absent from the party. In the meantime, almost all of them have left. One of them spoke to t-online. He says: “I didn’t want today’s party with these slogans and these people.” Here you can read more about it.