I posted two videos a few days ago about an inmate uprising in an asylum facility in the German city of Halberstadt. Residents were unhappy that they had to be quarantined because of the coronavirus, and objected to the food that was being delivered to them.
Many thanks to MissPiggy for translating this article from Die Tageszeitung about the situation in Halberstadt:
Protest in refugee shelter: Rebellion against quarantine
In Halberstadt, more than 800 refugees are under quarantine. Now a group is protesting against the poor accommodation.
Berlin — “I wanted to tell you what happened here today,” says the young man from Iran, who actually has a different name, and who currently lives in the Central Contact Point for Asylum Seekers [Zentralen Anlaufstelle für Asylbewerber, ZASt] in Saxony-Anhalt, the facility where about 850 people have been quarantined since last week for positive coronavirus cases. Then, Kurdi reports, on Saturday, the mood shifted.
A few days earlier Kurdi had reported to the TAZ that it was hardly possible to keep a [social] distance in the accommodation, with the shared bathrooms and shared rooms. Now a group of residents have started a hunger strike, Kurdi said by phone on Sunday morning. At 12 o’clock they refused their food and tore down some of the fences that currently separate the three main buildings of the property. “People want to be moved elsewhere because they are afraid of getting infected,” Kurdi says. But the supply of food also played a role.
Then security people had started beating and kicking people. A pregnant woman was later taken to hospital. A large contingent of police had positioned themselves in front of the property. “They didn’t come in, they just stood at the gate,” Kurdi says.
Denise Vopel, a spokeswoman for the Saxony-Anhalt state administration office, confirmed that 100 to 150 people had “started an action” on Saturday. “Unfortunately, quarantine fences were also torn down and there was a mixture [of people] that we actually wanted to avoid.” Now the quarantine concept has to be reconsidered. The quality of the food was the “bone of contention”.
Tuna and tea bags
A photo of a plastic bag containing an unpeeled carrot, a bun, a can and a coffee-to-go mug is circulating online. (SEE PHOTO BELOW) This ration is issued twice a day, along with a “little lunch”, tweets the Pier Magdeburg. The photo shows the dinner, Kurdi confirms. Add some butter and jam, and sometimes a piece of cucumber. In the tin there is tuna; in the cup a tea bag. In the morning there is also a piece of fruit.
Because the cafeteria is closed, the food is ordered from an external service provider, explains Denise Vopel. At lunchtime there is hot food, which is served in Asietten [aluminum trays]. In the morning and in the evening there are food bags. The order with the caterer always includes fruit and vegetables as well as butter, spreads, and sausage or cheese.
In fact, there was a wrangling between refugees and security, which a pregnant woman got into the middle of. She was brought to hospital as a precaution. “No injuries were reported,” Vopel said. The woman was able to return to the property on Sunday afternoon. Six criminal charges have been filed against security personnel.
On Saturday evening, Kurdi and Vopel reported that there had been talks between the refugees and staff at the property. “Our social workers were able to instill understanding, and calm the situation relatively quickly. Luckily, the police didn’t have to intervene,” Vopel says. All demands have been accepted and efforts are being made to make the quarantine situation “as tolerable as possible” for people.
Fear of contagion
Since people cannot shop for themselves at the moment, order lists were introduced — the residents would then receive their orders in bags. Also, many residents did not approve of the action because the quarantine measures had been violated. “People are naturally afraid of contagion,” says Vopel.
Marllow Kurdi can only confirm this. “The mood here is very uneasy,” he says — and criticizes the protection measures for the refugees as inadequate. “The employees only come to us in protective clothing. They are afraid to get infected by us. But we have little opportunity to protect ourselves from contagion.” There is still a lack of soap and disinfectants. Masks were distributed, but there were not enough to change them regularly. “If someone gets infected here, the virus will spread quickly in the accommodation,” Kurdi says.
Susi Möbbeck (SPD), State Secretary in the Integration Ministry of Saxony-Anhalt, contradicted the accusation on Twitter on Saturday that there were no hygiene products. Bottlenecks at the beginning of the quarantine have now been fixed. Improvements in the hygiene of sanitation facilities had been “concretely implemented”.
A lot of information appeared not to have reached many refugees, so they could not understand the quarantine measures. “There is an urgent need to communicate this more to the refugees,” Möbbeck writes. There had been criticism of the food, but she could not confirm a hunger strike.
24 positive coronavirus tests
The quarantine in Halberstadt is “highly precarious,” tweeted Sebastian Striegel, leader of the Greens, which co-governs Saxony-Anhalt’s Kenya coalition [Black-red-green, CDU-SPD-Greens]. The measures “must be explained and designed in such a way that the residents have no fear of contagion.” The problems will be solved with care.
The ZASt refugee facility in Halberstadt has been in quarantine for about a week and a half because a resident tested positive for the virus when he was transferred. In the interim, 24 residents have tested positive, Vopel reports. These, as well as four negatively tested family members, have since been transferred to a specially set-up quarantine accommodation in Quedlinburg.