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22 Apr, 2024 09:56

German communities can’t take any more Ukrainians – local government boss

Numerous districts are struggling with overstretched resources, the head of a local councils’ association has said
German communities can’t take any more Ukrainians – local government boss

Communities across Germany cannot take in more refugees, particularly those arriving from Ukraine, the president of a local councils’ association has told the Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung newspaper.

Germany hosts an estimated 1.15 million Ukrainian refugees, the largest number in Europe, followed by Poland, the Czech Republic, and the UK, according to figures from the UN Refugee Agency dated from last month.

While roughly two-thirds of Ukrainian refugees are employed in Poland and the Czech Republic, that number stands at only 20% in Germany, Deutsche Welle reported earlier this year.

In an interview with Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung on Saturday, local councils’ association president Reinhard Sager, who is also a member of the opposition Christian Democratic Union party, warned that a “number of districts and communities are overstretched by legal and illegal migration.”

“The integration of all the people is no longer possible,” he added. 

Sager pointed out that the federal government has slashed funding for municipalities which are faced with formidable costs associated with migrant and refugee accommodation. “If the number of refugees doesn’t quickly decrease noticeably and enduringly, the problems will become ever bigger, and they will come back to bite,” Sager predicted. This could lead to growing support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AFD) party, he claimed.

Sager demanded that Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government abolish the so-called citizen’s benefits currently granted to Ukrainian refugees, echoing statements made earlier this year by Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soder. At present, Ukrainian nationals in Germany are entitled to more than €500 ($545) a month, and children between €357 and €471. This level of assistance is higher than the support provided to other categories of asylum seekers and refugees.

“With all due solidarity, we pose the question to Ukraine whether so many people from the country attacked by Russia must come to us,” Sager stated. He emphasized that the southern German region of Baden-Wuerttemberg alone hosts twice as many Ukrainian refugees as France. Refugee camps could instead be established in western Ukraine, or Poland might be willing to take in more people with the EU’s support, Sager suggested.

According to a poll in February, nearly 50% of respondents said the German government was giving Ukrainian refugees “too much support,” while more than half believed that efforts to integrate newcomers had failed.

Another survey conducted on behalf of the broadcaster ZDF earlier this month showed that less than half of Germans want their government to send more military aid to Ukraine. A poll commissioned by FOCUS magazine last month revealed that 53% of respondents backed Pope Francis’ call for Ukraine to engage in peace negotiations with Russia without any preconditions.