Platz der Luftbrücke 5
12101 Berlin, Germany
Our Berlin Portal is located at Tempelhof Airport, the site of the famous 1948 Berlin Airlift and a longtime host of Berlin’s largest events. In November of 2015, as refugee entry into Germany grew, the hangers in this shuttered airport were converted to a refugee shelter. Currently about 1,000 refugees live here. They fled violence in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and small numbers also fled persecution in Iran and Moldova. More than a quarter of the refugees housed at Tempelhof are children. They reached Germany and have applied for asylum, but are waiting for more permanent accommodations to become available.
As the shelter is currently under capacity, not all beds are occupied. Families live in their own cubicles. The refugees are served three meals a day from a cafeteria. The shelter includes a doctor’s office, social workers, and care and entertainment for children. Refugees are allowed to come and go from Tempelhof, but must stay in the Berlin region, where they are registered with authorities. While some refugees living at Tempelhof have received asylum status and are awaiting housing, others are waiting for their cases to be decided—some for as long as a year.
Our Portal at Tempelhof is located in the THF Welcome Cafe, a volunteer-run coffee shop at Tempelhof that both refugees and the general public can access. In addition to the Portal, the cafe offers legal counseling, live music and films, and seasonal clothing distribution.
Omar Alshafai is an electrical engineer and app developer. He fled Damascus when war broke out and has been living in Berlin since April 2015. He is the co-founder of the Bureacrazy app, which helps simplify German bureaucracy for refugees and migrants. Omar speaks Arabic, English and German.
Karam Yahya is a Syrian refugee who made a dangerous journey to Berlin for a better life. Her has been living in Berlin since July 2015, studying German language and volunteering with several refugee initiatives. Karam is from Idlib in the northwest of Syria. He has previously worked as a community mobilizer with ActionAid in the Zaatari Camp. For more on Karam, read his interview with the European Student Union.