Woman walks past a migrant center in Germany (picture-alliance/dpe/S.Kahnert)
Woman walks past a migrant center in Germany (picture-alliance/dpe/S.Kahnert)

After the death of an unborn baby, criminal charges have been pressed against two employees of a security service for denying the pregnant mother necessary assistance and possibly causing her to lose the child. The reception center operators, authorities and Berlin’s senate have promised to investigate the circumstances.

After the death of an unborn baby of a female asylum seeker from Armenia in Berlin, criminal charges have been pressed for neglected support against two employees of the security service at a center in Lichtenberg, Berlin. 

The woman, together with her husband, had been hosted at the center for two months. She was nine months pregnant when on June 22, she suffered from strong pain and bleeding. Her husband asked the two employees of the security service to call an ambulance, which they refused, according to lawyer Tobias Kiwitt.

Instead, the guards told the couple, which doesn’t speak German, how to get to the hospital with public transportation. When the heavily pregnant woman and her husband reached the clinic after a long walk, the woman delivered a still-born baby. 

According to lawyer Tobias Kiwitt, who specializes in medical law, it could also be a case of involuntary manslaughter. Kiwitt represents the Armenian couple and has said that his client has been heavily traumatized and has been suffering from depression since losing her child.

“This is a horrendous incident that is touching and raises questions,” Berlin state secretary for integration Alexander Fischer said on Tuesday. “[The incident] will be resolved. Humans beings being denied emergency care is unacceptable. It must be guaranteed at all times.”

“The family has my sympathy. They must get every imaginable support,” Fischer added.

Center operator reaction

The reception center in Lichtenberg is run by the AWO, the Workers' Welfare Association (“Arbeiterwohlfahrt”), one of Germany's six nonprofit welfare organizations ("Wohlfahrtsverbände"). 

The chairman of the AWO organization responsible for Lichtenberg, Manfred Nowak, expressed his regrets about the “exceptionally tragic” incident. Nowak told reporters there had been "massive communication problems" and that the statements given by the security firm did not match the account the Berlin Refugee Council had provided. Nowak however conceded that the guards had failed to adhere to the general rule to call an ambulance in case of emergency. Both employees have been let go and are not working at the center any longer.

Berlin’s Refugee Council has called for higher quality standards for refugee reception centers after the incident emerged.

With material from dpa, epd


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