The German city of Greifswald, close to the Baltic Sea coast, is preparing for a referendum on June 18 about whether the city will “lease land to the Vorpommern-Greifswald district for the purpose of building container villages to accommodate refugees.”
The Green Party mayor, Stefan Fassbinder, is already warning that even if the referendum proves locals oppose the plan, it will not change the fact that migrants continue to stream into Germany at a near unprecedented pace.
“The refugees will come. The only question is where will they be housed,” said Fassbinder in front of a group of journalists. He signaled that the result of the referendum will not prevent him from allowing more migrants into the city, a position the Green Party supports despite a majority of the German population against taking in more migrants.
The referendum came about due to a citizens’ initiative that collected several thousand signatures to prevent any new asylum accommodations from being built. The German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommen, where Greifswald is located, remains one of the strongholds of the Alternative for Germany party (AfD), which is known for its platform built on drastically curbing immigration.
The city’s Green mayor said that even if the referendum results show that locals are not in favor of the planned accommodation, it could also mean the container villages are simply built elsewhere “because it is also conceivable that something like this will be built on other non-urban properties.” He also said that this will then mean a higher chance that migrants are housed in sports halls and other properties.
Tensions are already high in Greifswald over asylum accommodations, with hundreds protesting against a planned €9 million project to build housing for migrants next to a school in the city. The District Council voted for the plan despite widespread opposition.
District Administrator Michael Sack said the council had no choice but to approve the plans, saying, “We’re running out of time because we’re constantly being assigned new refugees.”
Remix News reported on a similar protest in the German town of Upahl last month where 700 people gathered in front of the local administration building to protest against the construction of a container village for 400 asylum seekers. The town itself currently has just 1,662 inhabitants.