Berlin dismisses migrant hostel firm in email scandal

Screenshot of Pewobe website Image copyright pewobe (website screenshot)

The Berlin authorities say they no longer want a private company, PeWoBe, to run migrant hostels in the city, after company emails denigrating migrants were leaked to German media.

A lawyer for PeWoBe said the emails had been quoted out of context and were never meant to be taken seriously.

Some PeWoBe managers joked about how to spend a €5,000 (£4,340) donation. A "child guillotine" was suggested.

Another email said residents would turn a sandpit into "an ashtray".

PeWoBe runs nine migrant hostels in the German capital, catering for about 3,100 asylum seekers.

Berlin's Social Affairs Senator Mario Czaja said the "inexcusable" email exchange between PeWoBe managers "makes it clear that any further work with PeWoBe is impossible".

He said shortcomings had also been found earlier in PeWoBe's hostel management.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption In 2013 there were far-right protests against this PeWoBe-run migrant hostel in Hellersdorf

It is not clear who could manage the hostels instead of PeWoBe, which remains under contract with the Berlin government.

German media say PeWoBe is likely to appeal against Mr Czaja's decision.

The unprecedented influx of migrants last year put German cities under huge pressure to find extra accommodation. About 1.1m migrants - many of them refugees from the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan - reached Germany.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

More on this story