Status: 27/09/2023, 12:38 p.m.
Winfried Kretschmann (Alliance 90/The Greens), Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg, speaks in the state parliament at a government press conference. © Bernd Weißbrod/dpa
Major cities in the Rhine Valley send an incendiary letter to Stuttgart's power center. Unaccompanied minor foreigners must already be accommodated in gyms. There is also criticism of a neighbouring country.
Freiburg/Karlsruhe - Because more and more unaccompanied minor foreigners are fleeing to Baden-Württemberg, the cities of Karlsruhe, Mannheim and Freiburg as well as several districts have turned directly to Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens). "We urgently need effective support from Stuttgart," said Freiburg's mayor Martin Horn (independent) on Wednesday in Freiburg. Without this help, legal emergency accommodation for young people could not be secured in the long term, Horn warned.
The number of arrivals in Freiburg and in other urban and rural districts have risen sharply since the beginning of August, reported the city in Breisgau. Freiburg and other municipalities in southern Germany are burdened far beyond their respective capacity limits.
"Several municipalities have already had to switch to school gyms and in some cases to tents." The joint letter was written by the three major cities and the districts of Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald, Constance, Lörrach and Ortenaukreis, as the city of Freiburg announced.
"Not only the youth welfare office of the city of Freiburg, but all signatory cities and districts are again under massive pressure, especially since the end of July, and are reaching the limits of what is possible," reported the Freiburg town hall chief. The joint letter is a call for help to the green-black state government.
The President of the Baden-Württemberg Association of Cities, the Lord Mayor of Karlsruhe, Frank Mentrup (SPD), spoke out in view of the increased numbers even before the letter in favor of handling supervisory and care obligations somewhat less strictly. Young people, who may have been struggling alone for years on their flight, may not all necessarily need the full responsibility of youth welfare offices upon arrival here, Mentrup told the German Press Agency. For example, in certain cases, security professionals could also supervise minors. To some extent, this is already possible.
It would also be conceivable that the age limits could be shifted somewhat and that young people from the age of 16 could be accommodated in shared accommodation despite their young age. This could relieve the burden on the youth welfare offices that have been responsible for them so far, but are completely overwhelmed. "It's a very delicate field, I know that," said the SPD politician. "But if the numbers continue to rise like this, at some point there will be no getting around this discussion, even at the federal level."
According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, these children and adolescents are a particularly vulnerable group. "That's why there is nowhere in the child and youth welfare sector accommodation in shared accommodation for adults," said a spokesman. Placement in such accommodation is not compatible with the best interests of the child.
According to the current legal situation, unaccompanied minor foreigners are assigned to a youth welfare office, taken into custody there and handed over to a specialist. However, due to a lack of staff, many cities and districts are overwhelmed, according to Mentrup. Nor can they be expected to initiate the recently decided nationwide distribution.
He had experienced that desperate youth welfare office employees had spent the night with their protégés in the corridors of the authorities because no suitable accommodation had been found for those affected and they did not want to abandon the young people. At the federal level, it must be discussed whether there are ways to relieve the burden on youth welfare offices without giving up the special protection that applies to these young refugees.
According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, 3252 unaccompanied minor children and adolescents have come to Baden-Württemberg so far this year (as of September 13). In the whole of 2022, there were 2938 and the year before 1186. The care framework for this group has already been reduced, a ministry spokesman emphasized. There should be no further reduction.
In Freiburg alone, 164 unaccompanied minor refugees arrived in August - a monthly record for the city. In the other urban and rural districts, the situation is comparable, the city reported. In particular, the youth welfare offices in areas with direct access routes - in southern Baden mainly via Switzerland - are very burdened.
"Switzerland's current practice is to allow migrants to pass through the country unhindered, or even to support their transit," the statement said. It must therefore be negotiated with the neighboring country, was the demand.
The three cities and four counties rated the country's support as "completely inadequate" at the moment. Proposals for a working paper of the state on the subject did not lead any further, it said in the message of the city of Freiburg. From their own point of view, the municipalities are left alone by the state government with their sharply increased administrative costs. Dpa