Kampagne 2021:Jetzt Verantwortung übernehmen!
Make Lower Saxony a Safe Harbour for All
More and more municipalities in Lower Saxony are declaring themselves Safe Harbours. These are important steps! Because a Safe Harbour is a place of arrival for people seeking protection, especially for those who are stuck at Europe's borders under catastrophic conditions. At the same time, people who already live in Lower Saxony, often for many years, still face many barriers. A Safe Harbour must create security and participation for all people living locally.
As a diverse alliance of different movements, initiatives and associations from Lower Saxony, we want to show what needs to happen to enable a safe arrival and a humane and equal stay in Lower Saxony. We are sure: A Safe Harbour Lower Saxony is possible! In a common campaign, we demand that Lower Saxony takes responsibility and takes the next steps. We have written down what we consider important in an alliance paper.
Together we will make Lower Saxony a Safe Harbour for all!
Taking responsibility! A Safe Harbour for All
Alliance paper for the local elections in Lower Saxony 2021
Political action has the task of organising good coexistence for all people. Municipalities are the places that provide access to education and health care, for example, and enable everyone to participate in social life. In many places, this has long been the practice in Lower Saxony.
More and more municipalities in Lower Saxony are declaring themselves Safe Harbours. These are important steps! For a safe port is a place of reception and arrival for those seeking protection, especially for those who are stuck at Europe's borders under catastrophic conditions. Secondly, a Safe Haven should create security for all people living on the ground.
Yet many people are still denied social and political participation - even if they were born here or have lived here for years and have long been part of society. Yet every society - in a small village as well as in a big city - functions and thrives better when all local people have the same rights.
As a broad alliance, we demand that the state, municipalities and civil society in Lower Saxony exhaust their possibilities to create human rights-oriented, protective and supportive living conditions and equal coexistence for all people - regardless of passport and residence title.
Zeit Online, June 14th 2021:
Bündnis: Mehr Kommunen sollen "sichere Häfen" werden
Neues Deutschland, June 21th 2021:
Niedersachsen: Wohnen lassen statt unterbringen
Campaign 2020:Lower Saxony to become a Safe Harbour
Open letter "Lower Saxony should become a Safe Harbour"
Together with the Refugee Council of Lower Saxony, we have written an open letter to the government of Lower Saxony, which has been signed by more than 130 other organisations, associations and initiatives in Lower Saxony as well as several mayors and district councillors.
In this letter, we call on the state government to support people in need with its asylum and reception policy and to advocate for an end to the European policy of sealing people off.
Lower Saxony to become a Safe Harbour!
Social media campaign
With the hashtag #NDSwirdSichererHafen (LStoSafeHarbour) we want to show that Lower Saxony stands for openness and solidarity.
Support us in our social media campaign and make a sign saying "Niedersachsen soll Sicherer Hafen werden" (Lower Saxony should become a Safe Harbour), take a picture of yourself with it and post it on your social media channels!
Here you can find Templates for a sign.
Send the photo to your Seebrücke local group or directly to our central campaign account or link us to it.
Demands on the Government of Lower Saxony
We demand that the government of Lower Saxony:
1. declares solidarity with all people on the run, civilian sea rescue and civil society supporters of refugees and advocates for an end to the criminalisation of practical solidarity with refugees in Europe.
At the European external borders, people are detained under catastrophic conditions in camps in Greece or cannot count on state sea rescue for the life-threatening crossing of the Mediterranean. It is already a scandal that refugees first have to put their lives in danger in order to exercise their right to asylum. In addition, the right to asylum is regularly broken by European states through illegal pushbacks to Libya or Turkey.
The sea rescue activists, who ensure that human rights are respected within the framework of their actions, fill the humanitarian hole left by the European states. For their work, sea rescuers are stigmatised by the media and prosecuted. In the hotspot of Greek refugee camps, supporters regularly experience attacks and their work is made more difficult by the authorities. Some activists are not allowed into the camps.
Human rights must apply to all! The criminalisation of the remaining defenders of human rights in Europe is a scandal!
2. actively advocates for safe escape routes and the establishment of state-organised civilian sea rescue missions.
There must be safe and legal ways to apply for asylum. Specifically, this must be possible at German embassies in the countries of origin. This requires the support of Greece by other EU member states such as Germany in taking in the refugees. It must also be possible again for everyone to enter Europe legally without risking their lives, so that people can make use of their right to asylum.
Sea rescue activists must no longer be defamed as traffickers and prosecuted, as was the case with Carola Rakete of Sea-Watch e.V., for example. The European states and the European Union must finally accept their humanitarian responsibility and set up effective sea rescue missions with a humanitarian focus in the Mediterranean. In 2013-14, the Italian coast guard showed with the Mare Nostrum naval operation what state sea rescue can look like. Most effective would be a state-organised and financed civilian sea rescue. It is now up to the European Union and its member states not to shift this responsibility onto civil society groups and to finally live up to their Nobel Peace Prize!
3. new state admission programmes (according to Section 23, Paragraph 1 of the Residence Act) are set up to create safe escape routes for those seeking protection and to admit them to Lower Saxony in addition to the Königsteiner Schlüssel.
The Königssteiner Schlüssel is the distribution model according to which refugees from federal admission programmes are distributed among the federal states. Individual federal states can also take in additional refugees through state reception programmes. Schleswig-Holstein has such a reception programme for refugees from Ethiopia and Egypt. According to the Königsteiner Schlüssel, Schleswig-Holstein took in just under 350 people in 2019, and thanks to the state reception programme, 500 more were added. The federal states of Thuringia and Berlin have now already launched their own state reception programmes to evacuate people from refugee camps at the EU's external borders.
Let us in Lower Saxony follow this example!
4. implement the admission of further people from the camps at the European external borders, especially from the Greek islands - either through participation in a federal admission through over-quota or, in the case of the federal government's continued blockade, through its own state admission order.
If Lower Saxony were to agree to take in an over-quota in a federal admission programme, this would mean that additional refugees would be admitted in addition to the intended share from the federal admission programme. Such a variant would have the advantage that the administrative effort would be significantly less than if a separate state admission programme were set up.
However, since it currently looks as if the federal government considers its duty fulfilled with the admission of the 47 minors - which is a vanishingly small number considering the 20,000 remaining in Camp Moria alone - a state admission programme is necessary. In this way, Lower Saxony can constructively contribute to easing the situation of the refugees in Greece. It must not stop at the 47 minors. Lower Saxony should do its part for the urgently needed dissolution of the Greek camps!
5. participates in the federal government's resettlement programmes with an additional contingent in order to create opportunities for the additional reception of protection seekers.
Resettlement programmes enable the permanent admission of people from a country in which they are already living as refugees to a third country. Through resettlement, states at the EU's external borders, such as Greece, where the vast majority of refugees arrive, can be relieved of the burden of reception.
6. agrees to the Bundesrat initiative to modify section 23(1) of the Residence Act, which would clarify by law that Länder can implement Land admission programmes without the consent of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
According to the Residence Act, the admission of refugees by individual federal states is currently only possible with the consent of the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The Bundesrat initiative proposes to replace the word "agreement" with "consultation", which would mean that a federal state would only have to notify the BMI of the admission. This would give the Länder more flexibility in setting up their reception programmes and enable them to distribute refugees among the municipalities willing to receive them.
7. supports the commitment of the many municipalities as Safe Harbours by discussing and legally introducing framework conditions for independent municipal reception through a corresponding amendment to the Residence Act.
In Lower Saxony, 26 cities have now declared themselves safe havens, representing 3.2 million people. They are ready to take in people rescued from distress at sea. The municipalities play a central role in shaping the reception of refugees, as they create the infrastructural conditions for this. Up to now, municipalities have only been able to submit their wish to take in refugees to the respective state or the federal government. In order to support them in this and to meet the great willingness to take in refugees, the Residence Act must be amended so that the municipalities are given the opportunity to take in refugees on their own. They must receive support from the federal state in implementing this.
8. against the background of the participation of Lower Saxony police officers in FRONTEX operations, ensure that the humanitarian treatment of protection seekers at the EU's external borders is in full accordance with human rights, for example by means of its own monitoring procedure.
Frontex is the European border control agency that ensures at Europe's external borders, against all European human rights standards and using physical force, that people fleeing cannot enter Europe and thus apply for asylum. The staff of Frontex is made up of police forces from the individual member states. The police of Lower Saxony should not participate in Frontex's illegal and inhumane operations and should set a good example.
9. creates secure perspectives for those seeking protection to stay. The state should use its humanitarian leeway to create and secure prospects for people to stay and participate who live in Lower Saxony and have long since found their centre of life here.
Even if refugees have made their way to Germany, this does not mean that they can live in peace from then on. Their residence permits are often only valid for two years, and their future is uncertain. It happens all too often that people who work here, complete their education, participate in social life - in other words, have found a home - are deported. In order to be able to actively and sustainably participate in a society, it is necessary to have language skills, fair job opportunities and access to education in addition to a secure perspective of staying.