The citizens' meeting for the planned refugee accommodation in the Mecklenburg town of Upahl was not able to dispel the concerns of the citizens. The frustration runs deep, also because of a - from the point of view of the citizens - non-transparent process.
Grevesmühlen/Upahl (dpa/mv) - The citizens of the Mecklenburg town of Upahl, which has a population of 500, remain critical of the planned refugee accommodation. "This is the best example of how not to do it," said Mayor Steve Springer after the citizens' meeting on Friday in Grevesmühlen, describing the way those responsible had dealt with the local people. He was deeply disappointed by this, but he was hopeful that things would get better now.
The disappointment was also noticeable in his fellow citizens in the evening, they repeatedly expressed their disbelief in the arguments of those responsible. From the citizens' point of view, the accommodation of 400 asylum seekers threatens a deterioration in local security. People expressed concern that women, children and young people will no longer be able to move freely in the village in the future.
Uwe Oertel, head of the Wismar Police Inspectorate, asserted that previous experience with the refugees gave no evidence of this. Nevertheless, he also stated: "I can't take your uncertainty away".
The example of Jördenstorf in the district of Rostock speaks for the fact that he is right, here the ratio between the capacity of the accommodation there and the number of inhabitants is also high at 1 to 3. Nevertheless, those responsible say: "From the point of view of the district and the employees on site, the pure numerical ratio has little significance for the coexistence between local residents and accommodated refugees." A spokeswoman describes the handling as "predominantly uncomplicated". Rather than the numerical ratio, human and social aspects decide about cohesion.
However, the citizens of Upahl are still a long way from waiting and waiting for the situation. Distrust of the officials was clearly expressed on Friday, and there were constant heckling. This also applies to District Administrator Tino Schomann (CDU) and his promise not to expand the facility in the future. "Who believes that?" It echoes through the room. All in all, people don't feel taken in by politics and their concerns ignored. It is said that the money for accommodation for refugees would be better invested in the local infrastructure.
Due to the - from the point of view of the Upahler - non-transparent process, the frustration is deep. Citizens only found out about the plans a week ago and feel overwhelmed. They are not alone in this: According to statements by the district administrator, the district has been trying to find a location for a new facility since last summer. However, according to the district association of the town and municipality day, those responsible did not approach the relevant mayors of eligible municipalities until the beginning of 2023. According to statements on Thursday, the district council did not learn about the decision in favor of Upahl in advance, but together with those affected.
Representatives of the district made it clear at the event that alternatives would continue to be sought in order to quickly relieve Upahl. A plot of 5,000 square meters is being sought to build accommodation for at least 200 people - if possible permanently. The circle also tried to clarify how much the situation has changed since 2021. At that time, according to the information, 15 people came per month, the authorities now expect up to 20 asylum seekers per week in the future. The private housing market has also been swept empty by the needs of refugees from Ukraine.
Maike Frey from the German Red Cross also campaigned for understanding and compassion. The current accommodation in gyms is not optimal, it is cramped, people have no privacy, no opportunity for leisure activities: "Integration can be implemented very poorly in a gym".
According to the police, around 50 to 70 people demonstrated loudly with slogans and megaphones in front of the building. Calls of "lying press" could also be heard. Admission to the event was restricted to those who could identify themselves as Upahl citizens.