Bavarian minister rejects intervention in refugee hunger strike

December 3, 2010
MUNICH, Germany –

Bavaria’s minister for social affairs has rejected calls for intervention as protests over miserable living conditions spread among asylum-seekers in Bavaria.

Hundreds of asylum-seekers in the southern German state are protesting what they say are catastrophic living conditions.

Protests and hunger strikes began last week and now comprise about 450 asylum-seekers from several cities in the southern German state. According to daily Frankfurter Rundschau, about 250 asylum seekers in the city of Augsburg have not touched their food ration packets since Monday.

Meanwhile the German state’s Minister for Social Affairs Christine Haderthauer, from the Christian Social Union, or CSU, told daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday that according to her estimates more than two-thirds of asylum-seekers are abusing Germany’s asylum laws. “I see no objective reason for the protest,” she said, adding that she suspects it could stem from the Bavarian refugee council’s call to dispense money rather than food. The motives were obvious, she said.

The Bavarian refugee council has criticized the state for not implementing humanitarian guidelines agreed at a legislative level earlier in the spring. “People are completely frustrated,” said Stefan Klingbeil, a refugee council member, last week, according to Frankfurter Rundschau.

Asylum houses in their current state were cramped, had construction defects and unacceptable hygienic standards including mice and other pests, he said.

Protests about the food rations also took place earlier this year, with asylum-seekers demanding money instead of food packages. Frankfurter Rundschau cited some as saying, “We are not children, and we can buy food ourselves.” Some also said they could not stomach European foods very well and they wanted to be treated with decency and respect.

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