Lampedusa in Hamburg

A three-month Schengen visa and a few hundred Euros: that’s all the 300 African men had on them when they travelled from Italy to Hamburg in early 2013. They lived on the streets for months, and many ended up in the city’s winter support programme. The federal authorities see no reason to offer humanitarian aid. According to the Dublin II Regulation, Italy is responsible for the refugees, being the first European country they set foot in. It was only when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany announced that it was willing to take the refugees in that the topic became an explosive local political issue. Saint-Paul’s church in Pinnasberg took in around 80 Libyan refugees, a microcosm of different religions and cultures. Muslims and Christians live together peacefully and struggle for the same thing: the right to reside in Germany. There’s a lot of solidarity in this part of the city. But there is a lack of medical care and perspective too. The last refugees left the church’s premises in June 2014. Some of them have entered city-run facilities for the time being. They’ve received ‘Duldung’ status, which grants exceptional leave to remain and rules out deportation. But they are still waiting and hoping to be granted permanent residency. The photo series aims to give these people, who so often appear in the media as no more than abstract figures, a human face. Behind every number there is a real person with their own particular personal history and destiny.

“My faith is the only thing I have left.” Zakaria from Ghana prays on the steps of Saint Paul’s church.By Maria Feck
For over six months around 80 refugees slept in the homeless shelter at Saint Paul’s church in Hamburg. A microcosm of different religions and cultures. The refugees had been sleeping rough in parks beforehand.By Maria Feck
Muslim refugees share a prayer mat, using it one at a time.By Maria Feck
Two refugees relax on the banks of the Elbe in Hamburg. It is one of the few moments when they can get some rest.By Maria Feck
The group ‘Lampedusa in Hamburg’ receives a lot of support. They demand their rights with self-assurance. Over 10,000 supporters attend the regular demonstrations calling for the right to remain and for changes to immigration policy.By Maria Feck
Grooming themselves outside is an important Sunday morning ritual. A tiny little bit of normality in an otherwise dismal everyday life. By Maria Feck
Police raids in Saint Paul. Isoumaila from Mali was arrested by police on the street. By Maria Feck
Habib from Ghana looks out from his shipping container accommodation. Three men share one room. No one knows what will happen next, or what the pressure put on local politicians has actually achieved. By Maria Feck
One of the refugees holds his leave to remain permit in his hands. He recently received a limited work permit too. But finding work in a short time is tough. By Maria Feck
Some of the refugees have been granted exceptional leave to remain. This means they must reside in a certain area, have no right to work and are lodged in shipping containers. By Maria Feck
Some refugees live in constant fear of being deported. Habib hasn’t been granted leave to remain. He is living in a private apartment. He has almost no chance of obtaining legal residency in Germany. By Maria Feck
Ibrahim from Ghana stands in front of his shipping container accommodation on the outskirts of the city. He is the son of a Muslim mother and Christian father. “Sometimes you have the feeling that you aren’t welcome anywhere.”By Maria Feck