Frank Jordans, Yahoo! News, September 29, 2015
Refugees coming to Germany can expect a roof over their head, a bed to sleep in and three meals a day. But with authorities struggling to find housing for tens of thousands of people each month, many new arrivals will find their lodgings a squeeze.
Smaller, in fact, than what’s permitted for a German shepherd dog.
An Associated Press survey has found that several of Germany’s 16 states have waived the usual rules expected of communal housing. As a result, migrants in some parts of Germany are finding themselves living in cramped conditions that rights groups say are unfit for human habitation.
On Sunday 14 people–including three police officers–were injured when a mass brawl involving hundreds of refugees broke out at a reception center in Calden, near Kassel. The site is a tent city originally designed for 1,000 people but now housing 1,500.
Of the 14 states that responded to an AP questionnaire on housing standards, at least three–including Bavaria–have lowered their requirements for shelters, including for the minimum amount of space available to each refugee. Six states had no minimum requirements, while two required that refugees have at least 7 square meters (75.4 square feet) of space each.
By comparison, animal protection laws stipulate that medium-sized dogs get at least 8 square meters (86.1 square feet) of kennel space.
Campaigners and refugees have also noted the lack of sufficient bathrooms, the absence of room locks, and the remote location of some shelters that make it hard for residents to come into contact with Germans.
One state, Thuringia, recently took steps to prevent unrest between different ethnic groups. It now attempts to house migrants separately by country of origin.
Women and children are particularly vulnerable in cramped accommodation.