Twenty years later and what has changed?

Altes Drehtor, dass im Wald abgestellt wurde.
Jadwiga Henkel, 14.05.2022

Since the asylum camp “Neues Haus” near the small town Tambach-Dietharz in the middle of the Thuringian forest closed, almost 20 years have passed. “Almost nothing has changed! The only difference is that today camps are not as far out in the forest and don´t have such expensive fences.” says the refugee activist Vivian Uche, after visiting the place.

Since 2008 the Christian association Camp Impact e.V. transforms the place into a summer camp site. During her visit, children are playing and laughing between the buildings but Vivan Uche can imagine, what it must have been like to live here without a car, without possibilities to reach health care facilities or other people, in the middle of the forest, while waiting for a decision on an asylum request.

Not long ago she lived in one of the camps, that was opened as a replacement when the camp at Neues Haus was shut down in 2003. While her asylum camp was located in a town, she recognises many of the features of the first Thurigian asylum camp in the camps she experienced herself recently. Bad and insufficient food, camp doctors, that don´t understand or don´t care for the medical problems of the refugees, cramped spaces and an administration that takes away all agency from those seeking asylum.

“The reason why refugees are being kept in this kind of places is because the German autorities want to protect their citizens from the refugees. By keeping the refugees fenced in like wild animals, they are making the citizens believe that refugees are dangerous to live with and refugees are less human. That is the plain interpretation I see whenever I see asylum homes.”

Vivian Uche will co-lead two workshops  of the project “Life Behind Barbed Wire” in September and October 2002. Her objective is clear: “It should be about the connection to today. It cannot only be about the past and memory, but it must also point out, that to this very day refugees in Thuringia are living under the same conditions.”