Hundreds of Ukrainian refugees arrive in Berlin
Hundreds of Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Berlin following Russia’s invasion. Germany has made several preparations to welcome the refugees into the country.
Berlin faces influx of Ukrainian refugees
Since Russia’s invasion, more than half a million Ukrainians have fled the country. However, according to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, only around 1.800 have made it to Germany so far. It is expected that the number of refugees arriving in Berlin from Ukraine, particularly women and children, will increase significantly over the next few days.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has repeatedly stated that Germany’s borders are open to refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. In order to cope with the influx of refugees, the German capital and the surrounding state of Brandenburg have reactivated certain protocols that were used to cope with the 2015 migrant crisis.
As the migrants arrived at Berlin Hauptbahnhof, they were welcomed by German police and volunteers wearing Ukrainian flags. 1.300 emergency beds have already been prepared in Berlin, with 1.200 more set to be prepared in the coming days. In Brandenburg, accommodation is being prepared for some 10.000 people.
How is Germany preparing to welcome refugees?
So far, the UN estimates that 500.000 people have been forced to leave Ukraine. The UN expects that this number could increase to around 4 million, many of whom will come through Poland to reach the federal republic. Germany has since announced that its borders are open to refugees fleeing the current conflict, with officials waiving paperwork requirements for those who arrive at the border.
German rail company Deutsche Bahn has also announced that it will offer free travel to any Ukrainian citizen or resident travelling from Poland into Germany. Under the current rules, Ukrainian citizens may reside in any EU country for up to 90 days, although the German government has stated that Ukrainians may be able to extend their stay for another 90 days if they make an application for a residence permit.
The EU is expected to make reforms that will allow Ukrainian refugees to stay in member states for up to three years, and will provide them with a work permit, access to social security and healthcare during that time.
Is there enough space to accommodate the refugees?
Germany’s Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is coordinating with the federal states “to ensure the even distribution of war refugees arriving in Germany”. BAMF does not expect there to be any shortages, since the federal states have all indicated their willingness to help out.
Several cities in North Rhine-Westphalia, including Cologne, Essen and Düsseldorf, have stated that they are ready to take in refugees. The German government is also hoping that the 330.000 Ukrainians and people of Ukrainian origin already living in Germany will help take in and accommodate any friends or relatives they might have coming into the country.