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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Berlin Senate upset by federal distribution campaign

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Social Senator Katja Kipping (left) accused the federal government of acting recklessly in the distribution of Ukrainian refugees. The federal government sent more than 70 buses to the capital; 5,000 refugees were to be organized and collected overnight, although the system for distributing them to the federal states is not yet operational.

The bus announcement came at very short notice, Kipping criticized Thursday in the House Social Affairs Committee. “It is not practicable or feasible. The recommendation would have been to stretch it.”

After all, people are already scattered throughout the city, so you have to talk to them first. That takes some time. Such “actions by Hauruck that are not well thought out are unhelpful,” Kipping said. The campaign also started several hours late.

The refugees picked up by the bus were driven to Bochum. By then, several thousand people were waiting with their luggage at the arrivals center facility. After hours with nothing happening, the people were sent back to their respective shelters. As a result, additional transportation was also delayed. Initially it was not known why there were delays in transport organized by the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

Check-in at 100 counters at the former Tegel Airport

On Wednesday and Thursday nights, Berlin hosted 1,200 war refugees, the senator said. Its distribution will soon be controlled centrally at the old Tegel airport. In the arrivals hall, people must be able to register at 100 counters day and night. 420 employees are needed for this alone, Kipping said.

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The plan is to bring up to 10,000 people a day from the main train station and the central bus station (ZOB) to Tegel by bus. People who are housed in other federal states according to the Königstein code must “get on the buses, which also take them directly to the districts,” Kipping explained. The up to 3,500 sleeping places at Tegel Airport are also not “as resonant and spacious as one might imagine. There are a maximum of five bunks in a somewhat protected room.” Pets should also be considered; there is food for them.

Hub: Tegel will expand to a 10,000-person-per-day distribution center in the coming days.Photo: Paul Zinken/dpa

In total, Berlin has created around 8,000 sleeping places for refugees since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. LAF chief Alexander Straßmeir told the committee on Thursday. Private accommodation is not included. More than 3,000 places have been created in hostels and hotels.

Meanwhile, more and more Ukrainians arrive with special care needs. “The number of complaints is increasing significantly,” Kipping said. An increasing number of people with dementia and a significantly larger number of people with disabilities are arriving. You have to react to that.

A separate pick-up and drop-off service with midwifery care for pregnant women and mothers with babies has already been set up, Kipping said, so “we don’t have any more bus births.”

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Long queues in front of the welfare offices

Meanwhile, in Berlin there is a high demand for registration appointments for Ukrainian war refugees. “In a very short time, 28,000 people signed up for such an appointment,” Kipping said, referring to the activation of LAF’s online appointment booking system. “One can assume: These are not the ones sitting in the showroom. They are the ones who have probably stayed privately with people in Berlin.”

Kipping added regarding the burden on the districts: “I’m aware that it’s really tough on the districts right now. We know about the snakes.” 90 percent of the refugees who already had their registration appointment stated that they “have close family ties in Berlin”. An attempt is made to leave these people in Berlin behind the key to Königstein.

Online registration for apartment-based refugees should start soon

A simplified procedure will be published soon at the State Immigration Office (LEA). People can register there online “if they can show they have an apartment or a certificate from an apartment provider,” Kipping said. This also includes subletting from relatives.

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Once they enter their data online, they receive an electronic certificate with which they can apply for social benefits and access the labor market by presenting a passport, explained the senator. “It’s like shorthand for people who are already anchored here.”

Emergency accommodation in Messe does not receive showers

People who are new to Berlin and spend their first night in the exhibition center will probably have to do without showers. “We have a real problem: Shower containers are in short supply,” Kipping said. Already for the construction of the huge reception center in Tegel, all available showers are pooled.

Every effort was made at the fair to install showers there. Kipping explained that he had even looked into converting the decontamination tents. However, this is not practicable in view of the drainage of the water.

The senator emphasized that the fair was only accommodation for one night. “It’s not what we want as accommodation. It’s just an emergency shelter when a lot of people come.” It will be rebuilt a bit, a children’s play area and more screens will be installed, he explained. “But unfortunately we can’t take a shower for tonight, even though we’ve been through it all again.”

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