Ukraine: 390,000 refugees in Germany. How are you? – Policy

We can do it? So far, the question has not been asked as strongly and critically as it was after 2015. The fact is, however, that Germany is not yet welcoming as many refugees as it did in the seven-year summer, but is already welcoming a number. huge. In Baden-Württemberg alone, more than 84,000 Ukrainian refugees have found accommodation. This is not far from the 100,000 people who reached federal state in 2015 as asylum seekers. Nationwide, some 440,000 people applied for asylum for the first time in 2015 and another 720,000 in 2016, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

It is not possible to say exactly how many refugees from Ukraine are currently in Germany. Over time officially 383 916 registered refugees from Ukraine In any case, as many people arrived as in a few years during the Balkan wars in the early 1990s, the second largest refugee wave in postwar Germany, which reached its peak in 1992. At the time, nearly 440,000 displaced people have applied for asylum.

(Photo: SZ graphic: saru; Sources: Federal Statistical Office, Federal Police)

For the Ukrainians the situation is different from that of those who fled at that moment. They can enter the country without a visa and are directly recognized as refugees without an asylum procedure. Here lies the great opportunity, for them and also for Germany. Instead of being stuck in asylum procedures for years and being forced to stay in communities, these people can live where they want from day one, send their children to school, look for work and settle down.

All right, then? The simultaneous influx of so many people remains a test of strength. An overview of current problems and how they could be solved.

Preferably in the cities

They had to leave quickly, but many of the Ukrainians who fled their homeland shortly after the war started knew exactly where to go. 82% of those who arrived in Germany actually wanted to go to Germany specifically. According to a survey commissioned by the Federal Interior Ministry four weeks after the war began, more than half (most of them are women) even went to where they were at the time of the survey at the end of March. Those were mostly big cities. Two-thirds said they had friends or relatives there. Others had been recommended the city by friends or were hoping to find work there.

German cities were particularly attacked, with 10,000 people arriving in Berlin every day. 42,000 refugees from Ukraine are now receiving social benefits there. So far 12,000 people have been hosted in Munich. But Bremen, where there is a large Ukrainian and Russian community, also experienced an influx of 7,200 refugees, which was disproportionate for the city-state.

For weeks now, politicians have been trying to direct at least all those who are not privately in a more uniform way to the different federal states. In the capital, for example, refugee flows should exceed them, if possible. Deutsche Bahn operated special trains from Frankfurt Oder or Przemyśl on the Polish-Ukrainian border directly to the distribution center in Hanover.

However, no one can or wants to prevent those arriving from continuing to their desired destination. You can move freely in Germany and the EU. “Most Ukrainians only know the big cities, that’s why they want to go there,” explains Holger Liljeberg of the Info research institute, which conducted the survey. If you want to influence escape routes, you need to advertise other areas on social networks at an early stage. With Germany4Ukraine, the federal government is currently building an information portal that could bundle that information.

Where do you live?

The peculiarity of this crisis is hospitality: almost a quarter of the refugees stayed with friends at the end of March, 22 percent in another private apartment and 19 percent with relatives. Only seven percent lived in collective housing, camps and gymnasiums. But this too has pushed many federal states to their limits. The first reception facilities in many countries were quickly almost completely occupied, reports the media service for integration. Therefore now additional beds are created everywhere under high pressure.

Many refugees are “still very poorly housed – in fully occupied housing and emergency shelters,” reports Birgit Naujoks of the North Rhine-Westphalia Refugee Council. There are also difficulties with private accommodation in one’s family.

At least recently the pressure has eased slightly as fewer refugees have arrived and some have returned. Their numbers dropped from 15,000 a day in mid-March to around 2,000, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told broadcasters RTL and ntv. In Berlin, several emergency shelters are empty, like a Caritas facility in Prenzlauer Berg. “There are fewer people, but they are significantly older, sicker and also visibly more traumatized”, underlines Ulrike Kostka, director of the Caritas Association in Berlin.

In the land of bureaucracy

The German state wants to know who is coming to the country. That is why every refugee in Germany has to undergo an identity check, including a biometric photo and fingerprints, and this can take some time: Refugees from Ukraine are usually registered using the so-called spade system, which is also used to register applicants. asylum . Everyone should give 30 to 60 minutes, refugee aides warn, as long as the technology gets along. Sometimes the servers are overloaded, sometimes the maintenance windows are unfavorable, sometimes the devices are not enough.

Procedures differ from federal state to federal state, but in general the following applies: The deciding factor for registration is where refugees find accommodation in the first place: in one of the central arrival offices or privately with a family. In the arrival centers, refugees are usually registered systematically. If you live privately, you don’t need to register first. However, refugees do not escape identity checks. This is due at the latest when you want to apply for permanent residency.

For those arriving, registration is just one of many administrative walks. Take Berlin for example: Anyone who reaches the arrival center first must consult with the State Refugee Office (LAF), which is responsible not only for the collection of personal data but also for its distribution throughout the country. If you need social benefits, you need to register with the social welfare office. If you want to apply for a residence permit, you must contact the State Immigration Office (LEA). War refugees also get their work permits there. According to a survey by the Federal Interior Ministry, 92 percent of Ukrainian women who arrived here were employed in their home country or in training.


Perhaps the most difficult situation right now is for those displaced people who have had to flee Ukraine but do not have a Ukrainian passport. Among them are businessmen from Vietnam who have lived in Ukraine for years, a taxi driver from Uzbekistan and many students from North and West Africa. All these people in Europe do not automatically get protection under the Mass Inflow Directive, which applies to Ukrainians; but only when it is clear that they cannot return to their home country. The problem: Students from Morocco or Tunisia are usually not threatened in their home country. However, they often spent all their money, sometimes that of relatives, to get a place at the university. Some are nearing completion. “These people were likewise deported,” says Nora Brezger of the Berlin Refugee Council, who is calling for a two-year right of residence for these people.

Welcome to school

What is happening in schools today can perhaps best be measured using the example of the smallest federal state: around 7,000 children in a school year in Bremen. The senator’s spokesperson for social affairs estimates that nearly half of Ukrainian schoolchildren have already arrived. They are widespread in all age groups. However, there are many children who suddenly have to receive additional education. According to the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, there are already more than 65,000 more students nationwide, although many schools were already groaning at the lack of teachers.

In many places, reception courses were opened at lightning speed, such as in 2015 and 2016, when thousands of refugees arrived, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Already then, around 30 percent of them were children and young people. In the welcome classes, they first learned German separately from German students and only took part in normal lessons by the hour.

Now the percentage of children among refugees is even higher, at 39 percent. But their situation is a bit different: many want to return as soon as possible. Should they learn German? Or would it be better to let them take Ukrainian lessons online? There are refugee students who are currently writing their Ukrainian baccalaureate online in Germany. Ukrainian Consul General Iryna Tybinka also called for education according to Ukrainian curricula during an appearance at the Conference of Ministers of Education.

However, most federal states also focus on integration. In Bavaria, for example, which has so far received the largest number of pupils in schools (12,000), more than 600 so-called reception groups have already been set up, in which around 1,700 reception staff teach. These can be teachers, but also students, retirees or simply people with Ukrainian language skills. Ukrainian teachers are also involved. Children learn German there.

Where there are no welcome classes, children will be placed in the classes from day one. It is also about giving them a little structure, a little bit of everyday life in the middle of a foreign country.

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