While the politicians at European and national level are still struggling with the refugee crisis and the tone in the political discourse is getting harsher, SOLIDAR members are helping refugees all along the Balkan and Mediterranean route in hundreds of projects; they support the integration and inclusion of refugees who fled from the worst conflicts of our time.
In this article we highlight one good example of a refugee project by our German member Arbeiter Wohlfahrt.
The “AWO Refugium /Marie-Schlei-Haus” in Berlin-Reinickendorf is a home for refugees in need of particular protection. It was opened in April 2013 as the first facility of its kind in Berlin. Refugees in need of particular protection are elderly persons, pregnant women, single parents, minors, victims of torture, rape or other forms of physical, psychological or sexual violence, persons with signs of psychological problems, victims of human trafficking and victims of female genital mutilation.
The emphasis of the work done by the social workers in the Marie-Schlei-House is to motivate and help the refugees in their daily life with the challenges they are facing. The refugees are supported in all kinds of daily and administrative matters to ensure them their social and fundamental rights and to support them to integrate as fast and efficient as possible. They can offer support in German, English, French, Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, Serbo-Croatian, Farsi, Russian and Urdu.
The work concerns two main fields of action:
1) Children and Youth care
Of the 190 residents 112 are minors. Within the Marie-Schlei*-House AWO organises a wide variety of activities for the children: they have their own playground, toys and games donated by the citizens of Berlin and they are looked after every day of the week. The team is supported by many committed volunteers. One of the main focuses is to integrate the children in pre-school education and local communities, so that inclusion and integration are supported from an early age on.
2) Social Support
The team supports refugees in their day-to-day activities like the communication with authorities, they help them making appointments with doctors/psychologists or to find accommodation once their asylum status is granted.
The Marie-Schlei-House is just one example for hundreds of refugee homes and projects run by SOLIDAR member organisations committed to help the most vulnerable among the many refugees with the support of hundreds of thousands of volunteers and professional social workers. European wide coordinated responses to the humanitarian emergencies are urgently needed. The whole responsibility of protecting and taking care of the many people who fled the terrible conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan cannot relay only in the hands of welfare and social organisations in European member states.
More information about the Marie-Schlei-House (in German language only) can be found here. * Marie Schlei (1919 – 1983) was a German politician, member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). She was the first female Minister for Development Cooperation of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1976 to 1978 under chancellor Helmut Schmidt.