Five years after the massive influx of refugees that overthrew Germany, the town of Neurupine says it is ready to welcome new immigrants, an exception in an area of the former German Democratic Republic where the far-right AfD party is making his best.
“We have room for 50 to 75 people,” Jens-Peter Golde, the mayor of the city of Brandenburg, which has 31,000 inhabitants, told AFP. At the entrance to the city center, giant colorful letters painted on a wall attract attention: “Diversity is our future”. On the third floor of the town hall, Jens-Peter Golde intends to implement this slogan.
“When we see the images of the fire in Moria, the issue is not to give lectures for major political decisions, the issue is ethics,” said the mayor. “We are doing well here and we have the capacity to help those in need,” added the unelected politician. In the city, 60 km northwest of Berlin, residents were moved by images of people sleeping on the asphalt after their shelters were destroyed by the Lesvos fire.
Berlin then decided to accept 1,553 migrants, mostly families, stranded on five Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. And Neurupine wants to take its share, as do 173 cities across the country, only 16 of which are in the former East Germany. “We have places immediately available” in the homes of asylum seekers or in the housing of workers, assures Golde.
Beyond the moral question, for this well-maintained city, the stakes are also financial. The arrival of the refugees five years ago was indeed an opportunity for local entrepreneurs. “The companies here are behind the workforce,” said Martin Ozinski, former director of 18 asylum centers in the region, who still remembers heads of small and medium-sized businesses knocking on their doors looking for of people able to work. Refugees are also in demand in the elderly care professions.