Frequently Asked Questions
Brief and simple - Answers to questions that concern you.
What are the important legislative provisions?
The version of the Refugee Admission Law (FlüAG) of 19.12.2013 regulates the admission of refugees in Baden-Württemberg. This law came into force on 01.01.2014.
The Refugee Admission Law ensures that the Bundesland of Baden-Württemberg fulfills its legal and humanitarian obligations towards the people seeking protection in the Federal Republic of Germany. The law is based on the guiding principle of fair and humane treatment of refugees.
Responsibility in finding accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers is determined by the status of the acceptance procedure:
- The regional reception centre for refugees in Karlsruhe ensures initial accommodation for new arrivals as defined by the Asylverfahrensgesetz (Asylum Procedure Law).
- The counties are responsible for providing the so-called provisional locations in their own lodging.
- The municipal local authorities contribute to finding this temporary accommodation and are responsible for providing intermediate accommodation. As one of these district towns, Esslingen meets its obligations in this regard.
Why does Esslingen pursue a decentralised concept?
Esslingen is ready to make its contribution towards finding the refugees and asylum seekers who arrive on our doorstep a good place to live. In doing so, we place considerable importance on decentralised communal accommodation, with approximately 70 people per accommodation. Larger accommodations are only intended to be used in emergencies.
Our aim is for these smaller units of accommodation and housing to facilitate acceptance, and to make it easier for the residential population to engage with new arrivals. It is equally important that the refugees and asylum seekers can live in comfortable surroundings. The housing must be integrated into the urban design of the city, so that newly arrived people are able to get to grips with everyday life, for example go shopping for groceries or take their children to nursery or school.
How is the support of refugees regulated?
The district is responsible for providing social support in communal accommodation. They in turn appointed the Arbeiterwohlfahrt (Workers’ Welfare Association) to carry out this task.
Trained professionals, social workers and social pedagogues will be available to provide refugees with support in the following areas:
- Information concerning asylum procedures and the associated residency in Germany.
- Help/support when making contact with the authorities.
- Measures on to aid cultural and linguistic education.
- Help with any required medical or therapeutic treatment.
- Support with looking for employment opportunities.
- Promoting mutual understanding and working towards harmonious relationships between refugees and the recipient community. This also includes close cooperation with support groups of socially-engaged individuals.
How will the refugees and asylum seekers be protected against encroachments on their rights?
In Esslingen am Neckar there is a long-established and varied society and a highly-developed network working towards integration, which inherently exhibits and promotes a tolerant, fair and egalitarian attitude towards citizens of Esslingen who come from a migrant background, as well as first-generation migrants. There is consequently very little danger of xenophobic actions being committed. According to current police information, there is no pronounced right-wing scene in Esslingen am Neckar which might organise attacks against asylum seekers or against individuals responsible for their care. The police station in Esslingen is in constant communication with the state security’s Criminal Investigation Department with regard to the possible emergence of right-wing or xenophobic groups. If such circumstances were to arise, comprehensive surveillance measures would be initiated, proportionate to the particular situation.
The necessary safety precautions for temporary accommodation provided to asylum seekers are to be implemented all over the region. Monthly security discussions take place, in which the Public Order Office and the Civil Registry Office inform the police forces about the state-run accommodation, so as to implement appropriate checks as part of its patrol duty.
How will citizens be informed about future facilities?
Due to the current developments of the influx of refugees, in the course of the next few years more housing sites will likely appear in other districts in the city. The City Administration perceives there to be a great sense of openness towards the huge challenge that society is facing. The City Administration is eager to hold discussions with citizen’s committees and examine their proposals for housing locations. Determining the locations for communal accommodation is, however, ultimately the responsibility of the city and of the county.
In contrast to urban planning or urban development projects (e.g. dialogue with the public), which usually involves the preparation of long-term schemes, determining locations for accommodation asylum seekers requires the delivery of fixed-term sites, which have no other significance to the city for the duration of their use as accommodation.
In addition, as a result of the urgency and necessity of the situation of many asylum seekers, no open-ended participation procedures can be carried out. In very little time, Esslingen must satisfy its civil responsibilities, and offer housing sites to the rest of the county as quickly as possible. Citizens will be informed at the appropriate time before construction begins, in a public event held by the Landratsamt (Administrative District Office), the Arbeiterwohlfahrt (Workers’ Welfare Association) and City Administration, at which everybody is welcome to raise any questions they may have.
How is the distribution of refugees managed?
The national government divides up the applicants for asylum between the individual Bundesländer (regions) according to a formula called the Königsteiner Schlüssel. Baden-Württemberg must therefore admit and accommodate 12.97% of the migrants arriving in Germany. The regional refugee reception centres in Karlsruhe then distributes the new arrivals within the cities and counties in Baden-Württemberg.
One of the key sources of authority among these institutions is the Regierungspräsidum (Regional Authority) in Karlsruhe (§ 2, Para. 2 FlüAG). Several more reception centres are currently in the pipeline, some of which have already become operational.
The county of Esslingen must in turn take in approximately 5.2% of the migrants allocated to Karlsruhe. The number of individuals is constantly changing – at the moment (May 2015) the number being allocated to the county of Esslingen by the Regional Authority stands at 200 refugees per month (§ 6 Para. 4 FlüAG). Information about the distribution of the new arrivals will follow promptly in each case.
In a further stage, Esslingen also receives a certain number of refugees proportional to the relative size of Esslingen’s population in the county – currently 17.4%. This process is not explicitly managed, but has been proven to function in practice and has the approval of local communities.
The county of Esslingen admits refugees on a provisional basis and houses them in communal accommodation, so long as such housing is available, in line with Article 8 of the FlüAG. The city of Esslingen has an obligation to provide assistance with this (§ 8 Para. 3 FlüAG). Future housing sites are determined in regular meetings with the county administration.
These communal accommodation units are built, managed and operated by the county. The county also has to provide the necessary staff to do this.
What commitments does the city make on a local level?
The City Administration considers it of the utmost importance that residents as well as institutions such as church communities, associations, and youth/seniors clubs in the vicinity bring their knowledge and engagement into play. The City Administration aims to help local support groups and will help to coordinate if required.
How much living and sleeping space will be provided for a refugee in temporary accommodation?
Until 31.12.2015, every refugee must have 4.5m2 of living and sleeping space, including shared space.
An envisaged increase starting on 01.01.2016 was first proposed at the Baden-Württemberg Refugee Summit on 27th July 2015. Based on current figures, from 01.01.2018 every refugee should be able to claim the right to 7m2 of sleeping space.
How long will the provision of temporary accommodation throughout the county last?
Asylum seekers and applicants must leave the asylum shelter following the decision upon their asylum application, and cannot appeal against this (§ 9 Para. 1 No. 2 FlüAG). Residency in temporary accommodation also comes to an end once a residency permit is issued, or at the latest, 24 months after entering the accommodation through the local immigrant reception authority (§ 9 Para. 1 No. 3 and No. 4 FlüaG).
The county of Esslingen communicates the number of individuals to be taken into intermediate accommodation in the towns, cities and municipalities (§ 18 FlüAG). Once the refugees have been allocated with a view to temporary accommodation, the local authorities are then responsible for finding the eventual accommodation. (§ 18 Para. 2 FlüAG). In the future, it is likely that Esslingen will see significantly higher allocations than in previous years.
What benefits are provided to refugees in the intermediate accommodation?
The cities and municipalities accommodate the refugees in their own property, or in living space that is hired for this purpose. Costs for building or renovating these housing units will not be taken on by the district authorities. There are therefore no defined standards for the amount of living and sleeping space available to refugees. This type of accommodation is justifiably comparable to shelters for the homeless.
The facilities that the local authorities must provide are comparable with those of the district. Since those individuals residing in intermediate accommodation are usually dependent on financial support, they receive cash benefits from the regional authorities in accordance with the Asylbewerberleistungsgesetzes (Asylum-seekers Benefits Act). As a result, an adult is entitled to €360 per month. In case of illness, the authorities also provide medical care.
The regional authorities pay the local authorities an appropriate rate of rent (in accordance with statutes or the local rental rate), if recognised refugees are unable to meet their living costs themselves. It remains the responsibility of the regional authorities to provide social care and support to refugees (§ 18 Para. 2 FlüAG). This means that refugees are able to reach a point of contact at the (Landratsamt) Administrative District Office.
Will children residing in temporary or intermediate accommodation be able to attend school?
It should be ensured that, within temporary accommodation (communal facilities belonging to the regional authorities), it is possible for children to attend school (§ 13 Para. 1 FlüAG). However, there is no such corresponding regulation in the Refugee Admission Law for people residing in intermediate accommodation.
The city of Esslingen is currently investigating this possibility, and hopes to make it possible for these children to attend school or nursery.
Can refugees or asylum seekers perform charitable activities?
Asylum seekers who do not yet have a work permit (currently these are granted after three months of residency in Germany), can still take on charitable work. In general, they are paid an hourly rate of Euro 1.05. The refugees are permitted to work a maximum of 100 hours per month.
This amount is not taken into account in the calculation of benefits within the framework of the Asylum-seekers Benefits Act, and is therefore available as a source of additional income.
How long is the residency period of refugees in intermediate accommodation?
Esslingen and all of the other towns, cities and municipalities in the district must be prepared that a large proportion of these refugees will remain in the area for many years and will not be able to support themselves financially. Many refugees who have humanitarian justifications for remaining in Germany are often unable to return to their country of origin. Many accepted refugees and asylum seekers have difficulties in finding employment. All in all, cities and municipalities must become used to annual rises in the number of refugees allocated to them for intermediate accommodation.