Only 2,600 Ukrainian war refugees spent the night from Friday to Saturday at the main train station. They were housed there in warm trains and in the two tents, social senator Katja Kipping (left) told the Tagesspiegel. Most of them arrived in Berlin on their way to visit relatives in other cities. The situation at the main train station remains difficult, with hundreds of refugees sometimes arriving in the capital within minutes.
“For security reasons, we have to rectify the situation of many people who arrive. That is why the processes are being changed so that there is something to eat and then you get to the accommodation as quickly as possible,” Kipping said. The state has commissioned the Messe Berlin catering company to prepare 10,000 packed lunches a day and provide soup.
The refugees have been sleeping in the exhibition halls since Thursday night. There, 900 to 1,000 beds are set up for short-term accommodation. According to Kipping, 500 war refugees will spend the night from Saturday to Sunday at the old Tegel airport for the first time. The capacity of emergency accommodation there is 3,000 places.
After the arrival center in Reinickendorf, up to 10,000 refugees from Ukraine will be registered in Tegel and distributed to other federal states. However, the scheduled opening of this second arrival center on Sunday or Monday will be delayed.
“We ask the federal government for support with registration at the Tegel arrivals center and with bus logistics,” Kipping said. In addition, more containers for showers and bathrooms were missing. Bus logistics is not about renting buses, but about organizing where refugees are taken. The Senate also plans to establish 500 overnight places in Terminal 5 in Schönefeld as an “emergency solution”.
20,000 refugees accommodated through land and bed exchange
So far, around 20,000 Ukrainian refugees have been accommodated in Berlin by the Berlin state or through a bed exchange run by the Karuna association. The number of people who found private accommodation with the approximately 13,000 Ukrainians living in Berlin is unknown. Around 315,800 overnight stays are registered in the exchange of beds.
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The volunteers criticize that there is no mediation and that their experience is not taken into account. The social administration denies this and says that the representatives of the volunteers are involved in regular weekly discussions.
Karuna board member Jörg Richert explained to the Tagesspiegel that it was no longer possible to mediate between individuals and refugees at the main station due to the large influx. There will be a verifiable procedure in the future. Karuna will resume organizing places in Tegel. Vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities or those in need of care, as well as people whose return trip can only take place days later and family members who were separated during the flight, should be located first.
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To protect refugees from abuses in private accommodation offers, the police at the main train station, the central bus station and at the arrival center also use undercover investigators. An investigation team from the State Criminal Police Office responsible for the protection of children is also on duty there.
The EU agreed to grant Ukrainians “temporary protection”. Initially it provides for a protected status for one year. Those affected do not have to apply for asylum. As a tourist, you can move around Germany without a visa. The welfare offices in the districts must provide benefits to war refugees in need.