A refugee reception center in Berlin
A refugee reception center in Berlin

Refugees and volunteers working in asylum shelters often face violence, sexual assaults and discrimination. Several German cities have set up ombudsmen offices where victims can register complaints.

An ombudsman or an ombudswoman is usually a government official appointed to receive and investigate complaints made by individuals against abuses by state officials. In Germany, several city and state administrations have set up offices where refugees or helpers can go and register their complaints.

Refugee ombudspersons in Cologne

In Cologne, the ombudsman's office caters to complaints related to refugee homes.  Victims, including volunteers, state employees and refugees can call or meet the ombudspersons and tell them about the problems they face in the refugee shelter they live or work for.

The Ombudsman's office is independent and is neither a part of the city administration, nor is it connected to the refugee shelters in any way. The ombudspersons can freely access refugee homes and cannot be directed by any administrative body.

The office addresses complaints related to violence, discrimination, sexual assault and attacks on human dignity. Complaints can be submitted anonymously and are usually kept confidential, as long as the laws permit it. If complaints are related to physical problems in accommodation or related issues, they are forwarded to the state administration. In serious cases, the officials go to the asylum shelters to see for themselves and recommend changes. The officials analyse the results and discuss them with Cologne's official bodies and the administration.

For more information on contacting the Ombudsman's office in Cologne, click on this link. http://ombudsstelle.koeln/flyer/flyer-english.pdf

The Hamburg ombudswoman's office for refugee assistance

The Ombudswoman's office in the northern German city is an independent institution. Refugees, volunteers, citizens and employees in refugee shelters can approach the office with their complaints. The office accepts complaints about the shelter and the integration of asylum seekers into German society. Complaints are processed free of charge.

However, the Ombudswoman's office gets active only when the problem has not been solved by other administrative offices responsible for solving the problem. The office does not entertain questions on law regarding foreigners.

The office started functioning on July 1 this year and is planned to run for the next two years. To visit the website and make an appointment, click here:

http://www.hamburg.de/ombudsstelle-fluechtlinge/

The Ombudperson's office in Baden-Württemberg

The Ombudsperson's office in Baden-Württemberg, with its capital in Stuttgart, is responsible for complaints regarding reception centers for refugees. Asylum seekers, volunteers, employees of different organizations and administrative offices as well as neighbors and other persons living close to refugee reception centers can approach the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsperson processes complaints regarding the accommodation, treatment and support of refugees in state reception centers. The Ombudsperson is neutral and not obliged to follow directives from state officials. He decides on individual cases independently. However, he can only consult and does not have any decision-making powers.

If you want to contact the office of the Ombudsman, click here:

http://www.fluechtlingshilfe-bw.de/index.php?id=1125