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Bonn discusses fate of boat refugees: Sridharan against cheap propaganda when discussing rescue at sea

Bonn discusses fate of boat refugees : Sridharan against cheap propaganda when discussing rescue at sea

Two factions are requesting that Bonn join the alliance "Cities of Safe Harbours". The council coalition is divided. Meanwhile, the Lord Mayor warns against „cheap propaganda“.

The charities get support for their demand that the city should accept boat refugees from the Mediterranean. SPD and Linkspartei have submitted a joint proposal for the next council meeting on September 26: Bonn should join the alliance "Cities of Safe Harbours" (see: "These 19 cities have signed"). This is to commit the municipality to accommodate people rescued from distress at sea in addition to the nationwide distribution key.

"We stand at the side of the democratic forces, which are ready to make the start possible into a safe and peaceful life for those in flight, explains the SPD parliamentary group leader Angelika Esch. Her party would like to see a cross-party decision to join the alliance. Esch: "That would be an important signal. Michael Faber, leader of the left-wing parliamentary group, recalls a letter from the heads of the cities of Bonn, Cologne and Düsseldorf in the summer of 2018 in which they declared their willingness to accept rescued refugees in view of the dramatic situation in the Mediterranean. "The sign of the Lord Mayor through his joint declaration with his colleagues was positive," says Faber. "But this should now be followed by concrete action.

The small Council group of social liberals also thinks so. The death in the Mediterranean must come to an end, said Sebastian Kelm, leader of the group. "If the international city of Bonn can make a small contribution, we would be happy to do so. But it is unclear whether the proposal will win a majority in the Council. The Jamaica coalition reacts in disagreement: the Greens want to join the alliance. "Rescue at sea must be seen as a humanitarian obligation," stresses Carlos Echegoyen, the party's spokesman on migration policy. "Bonn must sign the Potsdam Declaration and thereby set another sign of solidarity and humanity. The coalition partner, the FDP, however, will not join in: "We are sceptical about the initiative because there is no need for it," said faction leader Werner Hümmrich. The Federal Government has proven that it pursues a responsible admission policy in emergencies.

The CDU remains vague, but sounds sceptical. One welcomes the letter, which Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan (CDU) signed one year ago, explains parliamentary party leader Horst Gehrmann. "It is undisputed, however, that a European solution is needed to combat the causes of flight on the ground and to create regulations for an orderly asylum procedure and fair distribution. The CDU is counting on the federal government to bring about such a solution. Gehrmann: "Despite all willingness to help, care must be taken not to create any additional incentives for people to flee without a regulated procedure, which would be life-threatening".

The Alliance for Bonn (AfB) formulates its rejection of the application clearly: "The continued invitation of further African and other refugees is naive, politically not to be debated and rejected", says faction leader Hans-Friedrich Rosendahl. The Bürger Bund Bonn (BBB) rejects the demands of the welfare associations as "pure populism". According to BBB faction leader Marcel Schmitt, the federal government alone is responsible. "Bonn has taken in far more refugees than the city would have had to according to the Königstein key and has remained stuck with high costs. Bonn's Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan, to whom the welfare associations had addressed their open letter, refers to the offer of admission by the three cities to the federal government last year. "I will discuss the request of the associations within the city and make a proposal to the council," Sridharan announced. "Incidentally, I am of the opinion that the topic is not suitable for political propaganda. This is a matter of human life.

According to the press office, the city of Bonn provides around 5700 refugees with transfer payments for the unemployed or for asylum seekers. There are currently 1632 people living in urban accommodation, with more than 500 places available.

(Original text: Andreas Baumann; Translation: Mareike Graepel)