Berlin A month and a half ago, Olga Melnyk, her partner and their two children fled from Kiev to Düsseldorf. Since then, she says, the bureaucracy has kept her busy. Just last week, Ukraine waited in line with her family to be fingerprinted for registration. Despite an appointment, it took ten hours before it was their turn. “I was really shocked,” says the young woman.
Otherwise, the family hasn’t arrived yet. The children are already on their way to primary school. However, the teachers quickly noticed that the children were a year ahead of their class in terms of subjects and the eldest son now has to go to high school. Olga points out: “And it’s not that easy to organize this change.”
The family has applied for the health card, but has not yet received it. She doesn’t get any financial support either, at the moment the five are living off their savings.
Olga reports: “We would like to work, but we haven’t had time to look for a job yet.” She is very grateful to Germany for the great support. But some things would certainly be easier if there was a central point of contact for refugees, says the Ukrainian.
The best jobs of the day
Find the best jobs now and
be notified by email.
Federal police have identified 379,123 refugees since the war began on February 24, the Federal Interior Ministry announced on Twitter Monday. However, the actual number is likely to be higher, as Ukrainians can enter the country for 90 days without a visa and there are no fixed border controls. Many other refugees are likely to face the same problems reported by Olga.
Agreement has been reached on these basic principles
That is why Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), Commissioner for Integration Reem Alabali-Radovan and several federal ministers invited representatives of municipalities, states, authorities and associations to the Chancellery on Monday to overcome any remaining obstacles.
It is not clear when the refugees will be able to return to their homeland, said Alabali-Radovan: “This is why we must create perspectives and participation in our country for the people who have fled.”
The heads of government of the federal and state governments had already agreed on the basis at the meeting on 7 April. For example, that from June onwards, Ukrainian refugees will no longer be subject to the law on subsidies for asylum seekers, but rather to book II of the social code.
This would have the advantage that the employment centers would be responsible for granting assistance and looking for work. Refugees would then receive help from a single source. The basic security benefits are even slightly higher than the support provided by the Benefits Act for Asylum Seekers. However, legal implementation is still long. They will be “done as soon as possible,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Labor said on Monday.
In early April, the federal government also promised to provide federal states with personnel and material support for refugee registration and to procure additional PIK registration terminals.
It is used to transmit fingerprints and personal data to the Central Registry of Foreigners. There were bottlenecks here because devices were missing or necessary software updates were not performed. Immigration registration has become a bottleneck for many refugees and, as Olga and her family’s experience shows, the problem has not yet been solved everywhere.
Reasonable distribution of refugees needed
At the meeting in the chancellery, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser stressed that 84 percent of the refugees were women and 58 percent came with their children. “They urgently need our help,” said the SPD politician.
Cities, together with states, have already decided to organize crèches and classes for Ukrainian children, said the president of the German Association of Cities, Mayor Markus Lewe.
But: “We need significantly more capacity here.” The federal government is expected to contribute to the costs and rapid recognition procedures are also needed for teachers and educators from Ukraine.
Municipalities are also interested in a reasonable distribution of refugees. The president of the German Association of Cities and Municipalities, Ralph Spiegler, told the Handelsblatt: “This explicitly means an equal division between urban and rural regions.”
A coordinated procedure is needed so that neither municipalities nor volunteers are overloaded. Spiegler, who is the mayor of the Nieder-Olm association of municipalities, said: “Here we are calling for greater commitment from the federal government.”
Moreover: Read the latest developments on the war in Ukraine in the live blog