Illegal Migration: From Belarus to Brandenburg

Status: 10/27/2021 3:59 p.m.

Many refugees are currently arriving in Brandenburg via Belarus and the German-Polish border. Border guards patrol the Oder and Neisse. What is the situation like in Frankfurt, Eisenhüttenstadt or Guben?

In Frankfurt (Oder) there are significantly more federal police on the move, observers report from the German-Polish border. In the past few days, the Federal Ministry of the Interior has sent eight additional hundreds to reinforce the Oder and Neisse. The program of the border guards: patrols on both sides of the Oder – together with their Polish colleagues – and random checks at border crossings such as the Oder Bridge, which connects Frankfurt with its neighboring Polish town of Slubice.

Controlling everyone who drives across the border, as was temporarily practiced during the Corona lockdown, considers Frankfurt’s Lord Mayor Rene Wilke to be wrong. He feared that this would put enormous strain on the daily lives of people in the border region, said the left-wing politician last week.

Control at the Oder bridge.

Image: rbb

Introducing temporary border controls is a matter of weighing up the consequences – for commuters, for example – and protecting the border, says Friedemann Hanke, deputy district administrator in Märkisch-Oderland, which stretches north of Frankfurt along the Oder. His aim is to set standards both internally and externally.

Fred Mahro, Mayor of Guben, a border town on the Neisse in the south of Brandenburg, sees it similarly: First and foremost, the people who arrive here have to receive humanitarian care. That is undisputed. But the citizens of the city are also unsettled, said the CDU politician in one rbb-Interview. He thinks temporary border controls are an effective means.

Last weekend, Guben hit the headlines across Germany when the police prevented an illegal so-called border crossing by 50 right-wing extremists: They wanted to prevent refugees from crossing the border. Mahro condemned the action: Anyone who opposes the violence of the state and practices vigilante justice does not belong in the Federal Republic and also not in this city. That was not to be tolerated, he said.

About 120 people a day

Brandenburg’s Central Immigration Office (ZABH) is located in Eisenhüttenstadt. In the initial reception facility, the arrested or arriving people are placed in quarantine, registered and medically examined. Anyone who does not stay in Brandenburg will be taken to other federal states after this admission procedure.

Around 1,300 places are currently occupied in the initial reception facility.

Image: AFP

Currently around 1300 of the total of 2000 places are occupied, 200 less than a week ago, says ZABH director Olaf Jansen. The number of arrivals stagnated at around 120 people per day. 90 percent of those arriving here came via Belarus, says Jansen – many come from Northern Iraq because you can fly to Minsk from there. Others come from Syria or Yemen. If it had been mainly men in August and September, more families, women and children are now also coming. For Jansen, this is a sign that word has got around how one can successfully get to Germany via the Belarus route.

There are now more families, says Olaf Jansen from the Central Immigration Office in Brandenburg.

Image: AFP

The number of asylum seekers rose steadily over the course of the year: from around 800 in spring to April to more than 2,400 in October alone. In comparison, the numbers were much higher in 2015: At times 10,000 refugees came to Brandenburg every month.

Distribution to the federal states

At the beginning of November, the Federal Ministry of the Interior wants to set up a central registration office in Frankfurt (Oder). There, the Federal Police and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees are to organize the initial reception and distribute the refugees directly to the federal states. Then only those refugees who are supposed to stay in Brandenburg come to Eisenhüttenstadt.

Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer made a corresponding agreement in mid-October with his Brandenburg counterpart Michael Stübgen. He hopes that this will provide quick help with forwarding the refugees.

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