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What refugees from Ukraine need to know

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Berlin (dpa/tmn) – The war in Ukraine has caused many people to flee. When you arrive in Germany, very sharp questions arise: What am I entitled to and how do I get these benefits?

Basically, many things become easier for refugees when they register as war refugees. Only then are they entitled to the benefits of the Asylum Seeker Benefits Act, or AsylbLG for short. This includes accommodation, clothing, medical care and language courses. Registration is usually possible with the immigration authorities.

How do I get accommodation?

If you arrive at a German train station and are not staying privately, it is best to report directly to the initial reception center or speak to a federal police officer. This is considered a protection request and triggers an automation that enables further protection services.

According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf), the Königstein key is used to decide where refugees will stay. This regulates how asylum seekers are distributed to the respective federal states. This means that if those seeking protection are housed in a Berlin state facility after arrival, for example, they are then distributed to municipal facilities, which may also be in another federal state.

If refugees find a place to stay privately after arrival, they can apply for an apartment at the local immigration office. It is usually close to the first accommodation. However, Ukrainian refugees must inform the authorities immediately, because this is the only way the state knows that they need help. Basically, you can stay up to 90 days in the Schengen area without a visa.

As ProAsyl explains on its website, war refugees have a little more time thanks to an interim solution and can legally live in Germany without a residence permit until May 23. And no matter how long refugees have been seeking protection in Germany, it makes sense to apply for accommodation.

In addition, there are many private housing offers throughout Germany, organized by organizations such as “Ukraine Accommodation”, “Gemeinleben Willkommen” or “shelter4ua.com”. The most important questions and answers are also listed on the germany4ukraine website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

How do I get clothes?

Reported war refugees are also entitled to receive clothing and money. The respective social welfare office is responsible. The deciding factor is where the application is made: if refugees register at a state reception centre, they are usually provided with clothing and food directly on the spot. At the same time, the application for a residence permit is usually carried out automatically.

Refugees can also apply in the municipality where they have found an apartment. The addresses of the relevant immigration offices are listed on the Bamf website.

Not only from the official side, but also thanks to numerous private in-kind donations, refugees can get free clothing donations from aid organizations and social department stores. For example, there is a central donation warehouse at the former Tegel airport, which can be found on the “Donations Bridge Ukraine” website. The information platform “handbook Germany” provides a basic overview of state aid.

Can I go to the doctor here in Germany?

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, refugees from Ukraine are entitled to free medical care. In addition to visits to the doctor for acute symptoms, this also includes check-ups, for example during pregnancy. Medicines and vaccines are also covered.

However, the prerequisite for this is that refugees can present a certificate of treatment at the doctor’s office. The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians also points this out.

Refugees can obtain this document after registering with the responsible office, usually the social welfare office, in their municipality. In a total of nine federal states, refugees can also obtain an electronic health card (eGK) directly instead of the certificate.

If refugees do not (yet) have these documents, it becomes more difficult to get free health care. Medical emergencies are an exception here: Anyone who has to go to the hospital due to a heart attack or accident, for example, doesn’t have to worry about keeping the costs.

According to the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in Berlin, there are around 700 medical practices in the capital that offer refugees free medical and psychological help, regardless of their residence status.

Cancer patients should not hesitate too much so that their treatment can be continued as quickly as possible. The Cancer Information Service offers advice to those affected by email in Ukrainian and English ([email protected]).

How can I participate in the German classes?

Regardless of how long Ukrainian war refugees want to stay in Germany, they are entitled to integration courses provided by Bamf. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, these must be offered free of charge. However, lessons that teach the German language, offer application support, and give an insight into German history, culture, and the legal system are not required.

What about school-age children? There are efforts nationwide to get kids into school as quickly as possible. In 2015, welcome classes were established in many places to integrate refugee children into the German school system. Ukrainian refugee children can benefit from these structures. The respective municipalities and school authorities are responsible.

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