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17 July 2020 – Germany

Süddeutsche Zeitung, “Quälende Quarantäne,” 14 July 2020,
Süddeutsche Zeitung, “Quälende Quarantäne,” 14 July 2020,

Observers have repeatedly raised concerns during the pandemic regarding conditions inside reception facilities in Germany, with several centres witnessing Covid-19 outbreaks and others subjecting refugees and asylum seekers to dangerous living conditions (see 10 June update). Recently, volunteers, social workers, and NGOs have warned of the dire living conditions experienced by non-nationals in Munich’s network of reception accommodation. In several facilities, people are granted just thirty minutes of fresh air each day, spending the rest of their time in seven square metres and in temperatures that have reached 50 degrees Celsius. Food is left outside their door; television and internet are often not made available.

While some NGOs have criticised the decision to quarantine entire reception centres when only a few inhabitants have tested positive, the Bavarian health department reported that refugees remain fearful of the virus and that isolation remains necessary. (Although Germany has been easing its lockdown, authorities have been imposing local quarantines to counter fresh outbreaks–such as those centred around abattoirs and their accommodation facilities [see 10 June update].) However, despite the alleged necessity of quarantining entire facilities, humanitarian groups continue to argue that quarantine conditions in these centres are deeply worrisome. Caritas, for example, has denounced the “spatial, security and hygienic conditions” that persist in facilities in Upper Bavaria.

Separately, although the Federal Ministry of Interior has insisted that returns should continue to be carried out during the pandemic (see 20 May update), statistics reveal that deportations have dropped off significantly. Between January and May 2020, a total of 5,022 were deported–a decline of more than 50 percent compared to the same period in 2019 (when 10,951 were deported.) On 14 July, the country carried out its first deportation flight to Pakistan since the crisis began (19 Pakistani nationals were deported to Islamabad), while in mid-June, the government announced the resumption of Dublin returns. (Although the GDP submitted a survey request in May to Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees [BAMF]–seeking information regarding detention and deportations during the pandemic–the office stated that it was unable to complete to the survey, and that such queries should instead be sent to state authorities [see 20 May update.])