15 June, 2022
Open Letter to the Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser
Dear Minister Faeser,
We are BIPoC Ukraine & Friends in Germany, a self-organised grassroots community centred on supporting and advocating for BIPoC (Black/Indigenous/people of color) who fled the brutal and cruel Russian attack and the ensuing war brought upon Ukraine.
We are asking you to execute your full legal power, according to the principle of ministerial autonomy as the Federal Minister of the Interior to enforce the fair and equal treatment of all refugees fleeing from the war in Ukraine to Germany, regardless of their citizenship and to stop the discrimination against third-country nationals and stateless persons from Ukraine. More specifically, we are demanding that you ensure the above by implementing the following measures:
- On a legal level, inclusion of all third-country nationals with meaningful links to Ukraine under §24 AufenthaltsG
We ask you to issue an amendment to the circular letter M3-21000/33#6 and to include the following addition to point 4.1 (requirements):
Temporary protection will be granted to third-country nationals, if they cannot return safely and permanently to their country of origin or if they had meaningful connections and their center of life in Ukraine before 24.02.22, whereby meaningful links include, but are not limited to, work, study, training, business, main place of residence, etc.
- On an executive level, reliable implementation of fair procedures in accordance with the above demanded regulations
We ask you to take all the necessary steps to ensure the reliable implementation of these regulations by all executive bodies, in particular police forces, registration offices, and social authorities. In addition, we ask you to ensure that staff at the authorities are sufficiently trained and held accountable for misconduct and breaches of the regulations when they are to the disadvantage of the persons the regulations seek to protect.
More importantly, more needs to be done to ensure that at all levels third-country nationals and stateless persons receive reliable information about their rights and the legal framework applying to their situation in Germany and that they are eligible to receive compensation when their rights have been infringed.
While the solidarity of the German people with the people of Ukraine is impressive, it does, by and large, not extend to third-country nationals and stateless persons – even though they are fleeing from the same atrocities and have equally lost everything
With the Council Implementing Decision of March 2022 the Council of the European Union defines minimum standards for the member states on how to provide temporary protection for all persons displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This decision also advises the member states to offer temporary protection to third-country nationals and that regardless of their protection status they should be admitted into the European Union on humanitarian grounds without requiring the possession of a valid visa or sufficient means of subsistence or valid travel documents.
We, who have fled from Ukraine, want to make a meaningful contribution to society, but so far we have not had the opportunity to do so. Instead of the support and solidarity we so desperately need, we face discrimination and the imminent threat of deportation.
The treatment we are currently experiencing only frames us as a problem, hurting our dignity, harming our health, and endangering our well-being.
In the annex to this letter, we would like to share with you our experiences of having to flee Ukraine and the trauma of having had to leave everything behind – not only our belongings and our homes but also our hopes and dreams for the future. We also want to share our collective experiences of how Germany is currently not meeting the minimum standards outlined by the Council decision and is mistreating BIPoC refugees from Ukraine.
We know that you have been supportive of equal treatment for ALL refugees fleeing from Ukraine in the past. We are thus hopeful that by providing you with examples of our lived experiences of unjust treatment, and by sharing the stories of our struggles as well as our hopes and dreams for the future, we can reinvigorate your determination to fight for this important cause. We hope that we can convince your fellow Ministers that this is the right, just, and necessary course of action. And we are hopeful of your continued support.
We are also more than happy to meet with you in person to share our experiences
BIPoC Ukraine & friends in Germany
Annex to the open letter:
Who are we?
We are students, professionals, entrepreneurs, single or in a relationship, married, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers.
- “I am from Nigeria and I moved to Kyiv to study and graduate before the
- “I am a 21-year old student from Ethiopia, I was in my second year of studying medicine to become a doctor in Kyiv before the war broke out.”
- “I am from India and moved to Kiev in 2010 to study medicine. I graduated in 2018 and started working as a surgeon. I also opened an English school and managed it until the war started.”
- “I am a 31-year old Computer Engineer from Nigeria. I am specializing in computer systems and networks and have been working in Kiev since 2020.”
- “I am from Nigeria and moved to Kharkov in the summer of 2021 to start a master’s program in international relationships.”
- “I am from Egypt and have lived in Ukraine since 2013. I hold a bachelor degree in telecommunication engineering and a master in cyber security. I was in the process of setting up my own company in crypto currency development before the war broke out.”
- “I was studying and working in Kharkov to earn a living and pay for my studies before the war started.”
- “I am from Ghana and lived in Ukraine for six years studying medicine.”
- “I am from Libya. I am 26 years old. I moved to Kiev in 2018 to study
- “I am a 33-year old registered nurse from Ghana. I have nine years of work experience and as part of my career progression I moved to Ukraine to
- “I am 25 years old and from Iran. I was in my third year of study at Kiev Medical University studying dentistry when the war broke out.”
- “I am from Nigeria and I moved to Kharkov to study Software Engineering in 2021. I was working and studying before the war broke out.”
- “I am from Nigeria and moved to Ukraine to study medicine before the war broke out.”
- “I am 22 years old and from Nigeria. I moved to Ukraine to study Economics.”
- “I am from Nigeria and was a fifth-year medical student in Ukraine when the war
- “I am from Ghana and I moved to Ukraine to study Computer Science in Dnipro.”
- “I am from Morocco and was studying in my fifth year at Kharkiv Medical School when the war broke out.”
- “I am from Libya. I am 28 years old. I moved to Ukraine in 2021 to obtain a master’s degree in engineering.
- “I am 27 years old and from Nigeria. I moved to Ukraine to study computer science in Dnipro in 2018. I was studying in my final semester at university when the war broke out.”
- “I am from Nigeria and was studying economics in Kharkiv. I am in my third
year of studies.”
- “I am a 29-year old student from Ghana. I was studying international economic relations in Ukraine and was in my final semester when the war broke out.”
- “I am 24 years old and from Sierra Leone. I was enrolled in a master’s program in international law. I had been living in Ukraine for three years before the war broke out.”
What we would like to do if given the right to stay in Germany?
If we were granted the same legal rights under article 24 as they apply to Ukrainian nationals, many of us would like to learn German in order to continue and complete our studies in the field of medicine, computer science, economics, and international relations etc.. We want to work to earn a living and pay for our studies.
Those of us who have already finished their studies and are trained professionals would like to continue working in our professions. Those of us who are entrepreneurs would like to set up or restart our businesses. As many of us are medical doctors or engineers, we would like the opportunity to get training so we can validate and get our education, training, degrees, and our know-how recognized through the certificates
What are the obstacles we currently face?
- When entering Germany, we face discrimination, humiliation, and arbitrary treatment by officials.
- We do not benefit from the easy access to residency permits that have been granted to Ukrainian nationals.
- We are not eligible for integration and language courses.
- Although we have just fled from a war and had to leave everything behind – our jobs, our houses, most of our belongings – we are being treated the same as international students and as such we are required to provide proof of having access to the financial resources to support ourselves for an entire 12-month period. We are required to prove that we have over € 11,000 in our
- Documents proving our status or our professional qualifications that were lost or left behind are not being reissued by the Ukrainian embassies.
- Ukrainian universities do not issue transcripts of records needed for credit recognition and enrollment at Universities.
We, the volunteers supporting BIPoC fleeing from the war in Ukraine, believe that the treatment of BIPoC refugees from Ukraine mirrors the treatment of BIPoC refugees from other places and conflicts. From the get-go they are treated as nuisances, met with suspicion, criminalized, and pushed back to and kept at the margins of society. All in all, the current legislation and implementation have led to a dramatic precarization of a large group of people that are currently suffering in silence.
We, the volunteers, in our endeavours trying to support BIPoC fleeing from the war in Ukraine, have witnessed the following:
- BIPoCs have not received the safe, welcoming, and supportive environment which should be the minimum standard to adequately address people who just escaped a war zone in a vulnerable situation.
- Instead, they have been exposed to inhumane and hostile treatment at various levels in their attempts to find a safe place to stay.
- BIPoCs were taken off the trains that should have been transporting them to safety, they could not pass the Ukrainian border, they did not receive the same help or warm welcome after crossing the border.
- BIPoCs were hurt physically by officials and civilians on their way to a safe place.
- BIPoCs were barred from travelling to the destinations of their choice.
- In Germany, BIPoCs were forced off trains and banned from travelling where they wanted to, this also included people who were just transiting Germany, including people with valid train and plane tickets.
- BIPoCs were held against their will for one or more days, and their passports were taken away.
- BIPoCs were advised or coerced into applying for asylum, not knowing that this is one of the most marginalized, and restricted forms of existence in Germany. Asylum provides little to no protection and participation in public life is made more difficult or is denied for a long time.
- BIPoCs who have not been able to get legal support in time have been deported in conclusion of wrongfully induced official ordinances.
- BIPoCs have been denied the right to receive social benefits by social welfare offices in order to support themselves.
- Support for BIPoC People fleeing the war in Ukraine is very limited outside of Berlin: People often connect back to the BIPoC Infopoint @ HBF after travelling further and not finding easy access to resources and information. In some cases due to ill-informed officials, people were made to travel back and forth
- All in all, the current legislation and its implementation have exposed a large group of people to increased insecurity and they are now suffering in silence.