A Red Cross employee has claimed that women in an asylum home run by the charity have been sexually abused and that management covered it up.
The Red Cross in the German city of Potsdam are under fire as an allegation has emerged that sexual abuse of women in one of their asylum homes is not just happening, but is being actively covered up by management.
An anonymous letter was sent to the head office of the German branch of the Red Cross by someone claiming to have been an employee at the Potsdam asylum home. The whistleblower accused the management of covering up the constant sexual abuse of female migrants in the home, German TV channel Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg reports.
The letter specifies that female colleagues of the worker were also sexually harassed and mocked by male migrants in the home. According to the employee the management were well aware of the sexual abuse and harassment, but chose to cover up the incidents rather than try and tackle the problem.
The Red Cross has told media that they have forwarded the letter on to the prosecution service in Potsdam and are taking the matter very seriously.
The manager of the asylum home who is alleged to have been the leader in the cover up is currently on sick leave while an internal investigation has been started by the Red Cross in Potsdam. The organisation justified the move with Red Cross National Association spokesman Frank Hülsbeck claiming that “it ensures that these employees do not enter the home until all allegations are cleared up”.
Spokesman for the Potsdam office of the organisation, Ingo Decker, echoed the remarks of the national office saying: “We take these allegations very seriously and have invited the national office to notify us of the initial results.”
The asylum home has also been subject of previous complaints where it was alleged that health and safety standards were severely lacking. According to those reports the employees of the home were exposed to outbreaks of diseases without being provided with adequate protection, including highly-contagious tuberculosis. The management had also insisted that workers undertake weapons searches on migrants, exposing them to potential danger.
While the case seems extraordinary it is not the first time asylum workers have been told to keep quiet, or have been ignored by authorities, over migrant sexual harassment or abuse. Nor is it the first time a worker at a Red Cross facility has been subject to sexual abuse from migrants as was the case in Belgium earlier this year.
Critics of the German government’s approach to the issue say that there needs to be more accountability in asylum homes and more of an effort to prevent the abuse of women and children.