Are refugees a topic for the Ausländerbeirat or not?

The first meeting of Oberursel’s Ausländerbeirat after their inaugural meeting started off less spectacularly than the previous one had.  Held on Monday, 8th February, 2016, it was a 18:03 that Dr. Franz Zenker (ILO) asked “shall we start?”, with only 5 of the 9 members present.  “You’re the chairman” came the reply from Natalia Bind (AZO), who only a month before had appeared to be more eager to get things going.

At the time, there were several hundred refugees still camped out in one of the school halls, so it was a topic likely to be discussed.  Indeed, it was even on the Agenda.  Twice.  Four weeks previously the mayor, Hans-Georg Brum, had made it a key topic for the committee.

So when a question was posed about why there had been no mention in that previous meeting of a local building being set up to take 200 asylum seekers, less than 24 hours before the fire brigade carried the beds in, the reply was that the town itself was only informed by the local government (Kreis) at a very late stage.  Thomas Eifert, the committee’s contact in the town hall, commented that “the communication is really bad”.

This in itself may be cause for concern, although it would be interesting to know just when the fire brigade were notified.  But when the topic of the refugee situation in the town came up, and in particular how the reporting to the social and culture sub-committee of the town council will work in future, the item was skipped over.

Basically, in order to be as up-to-date as possible, that sub-committee will be given a verbal report on the situation, which will then be minuted.  The report will also be attached to the Ausländerbeirat minutes, except that the Ausländerbeirat almost always meets a day before the social- and culture sub-committee, meaning that they have to wait a whole meeting cycle to be able to discuss that report.  Any yet despite these circumstances, the item on the agenda where this was to be announced (4.2.1) was just skipped over.

Moving on, the meeting swiftly arrived at the item on the Agenda when one member who has visited that very sub-committee reports back to the Ausländerbeirat.  “There is nothing to report” claimed Puya Nasseri (ILO), something that Natalia Bind protested against.  Here protest was in vain.  Dr. Zenker was adamant that she was only the stand-in replacement for Puya Nasseri if he was unable to make it to the meeting, and since both had been there it was for him to report.  The minutes of the sub-committee meeting suggest that she was right to protest, as indeed the current situation of the refugees in the town were discussed.  How can it therefore be claimed that there was nothing to report?

And when it came to discussing the next meeting of the sub-committee, being held in the same week, Puya Nasseri got very agitated when Natalia Bind tried to point out items on the Agenda that could be relevant.  Interrupting her, he insisted “everyone can read that at home.”  “Why do you want to waste time on it?  Can’t people read anymore?” he asked.

After all of these opportunities to talk about one of their key topics, the show became a farce, when the Ausländerbeirat passed a motion to ask the town’s administration for more information about the refugee situation.  “We don’t receive any information about the refugee topic.  We can’t work like this” was Dr. Franz Zenker’s comment, and although Thomas Eifert brought up the subject of the minutes from the social and culture sub-committee they still managed to pass the motion with 6 votes in favour and 2 abstentions, even though they hadn’t decided on the wording of the motion itself.

So summing up the meeting, the Ausländerbeirat skipped the item on the agenda concerning information about the refugees, refused or were not allowed to talk about the information that they received indirectly via the social and culture sub-committee, and are now effectively complaining that they don’t know anything.  Given all that, “we can’t work like this” is a bit of an understatement!


About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Oberursel in 1993 and returned with his family to live there in 2003. He has been writing for since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.


  1. I will just say: oh gosh!

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