Protesting Against Refugee Accommodation Scheme in Germany’s Upahl
Residents of the small German town of Upahl in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are protesting against a planned construction of a shelter to accommodate 400 refugees. Wooden planks inscribed with messages such as “Upahl says no” and “Where are we?” can be viewed outside the entrance to the town.
Last week, Upahl made headlines throughout Germany as around 700 people demonstrated against the district assembly in neighboring Grevesmühlen’s discussion on the container housing for Upahl. Most of the protesters were peaceful, however a group of people which included known right-wingers from the region tried to breach the building, launching fireworks.
District Manager for Nordwestmecklenburg, Tino Schomann, explained the situation to DW saying, “I understand people’s fears,” but added that there was no alternative but to accommodate refugees around the area as there were between 20 and 30 asylum seekers assigned to his district every month.
René Fuhrwerk, a Greens politician and the monitoring officer of Wismar, noted in an interview with DW that although refugees were not the cause of many crises in the country such as the energy crisis, inflation and war, fear had resulted in people shifting the blame to refugees. He urged for “solidarity and human dignity” for the refugees.
In Upahl, protest notes on a roadside billboard reads, “We don’t want this…” The town is not well connected, lacking the proper infrastructure such as nurseries, medical care and supermarkets. The fact that the region has seen no investment in infrastructure and the arrival of 400 refugees has caused an overwhelming fear amongst residents.
Talks are held in and around Wismar planning to encourage residents to build the controversial housing. For now, it looks like the people of Upahl will have to accept the virus refugee accommodation scheme, despite all the protests.