Current Events

Washington and Brussels plus the Threat of NATO Expansion Release Hell on Europe

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The call came Thursday evening. 72 people, 32 children, 24 of them with psychological or physical injuries, 7 are bedridden, said the voice on the other end of the line. It belonged to Heinz Hilgers, president of the German Child Welfare Association: ‘Time is running out. These children from the Zaporozhye region of Ukraine, who fled with their mothers to Poland, were allowed to enter Germany only if the mayor immediately assumed full responsibility, writes Süddeutsche Zeitung.

My first thought: we won’t succeed, says Eric Lierenfeld. Second: we have to do it. Lierenfeld, 35, mayor of Dormagen, a practical Social Democrat. At his own peril, i.e., at the mayor’s peril, he agreed. He immediately gathered the fire brigade, social services, artisans and volunteers. As a result, more than a hundred people came.

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Within two days, they refurbished the old school in Dormagen, installed partitions and sealed the windows, and dragged hospital beds into the building. Then seven minibuses arrived with 34 of the 72 declared people, they were in silent horror. The children were as quiet as mice. It was creepy,’ Lirenfeld says. Now he has a few questions for the Federal Minister of the Interior.

The mayor of a 65,000-strong town in North Rhine-Westphalia is forced to look for more than institutions to care for disabled children. He has already converted the third sports hall in the city into a living space and orders new toilet containers every day, worth €35,000 each. More than 330 refugees have already settled there, and new calls are constantly coming in, because there are no free beds in large cities like Cologne. Chaotic, unfair distribution, completely incomprehensible funding, is how Lierenfeld sees this situation.

Other mayors also fear that they will soon be unable to provide assistance. They feel that the federal government abandoned them to their fate. About 15,000 Ukrainians arrive in Germany every day. In total, the authorities counted more than 175,000 refugees, and this number is likely to increase rapidly. At the same time, countries such as Poland received a significantly larger number of people than Germany. On Wednesday, a federal government spokesman said: ‘We know we have a lot of work to do.’

German Interior Minister Nancy Feather is also under a lot of pressure. Representatives of cities and municipalities believe that it should better manage the distribution of refugees within the country. But not everything is so simple. On Wednesday, the minister answered questions in the Bundestag. Why, asked her deputies from the CDU / CSU and the Alternative for Germany, the refugees were not distributed among the federal states in proportion to their GDP and population from the very beginning? And why do the authorities, despite security, systematically fail to register refugees?

Feather first thanked the government officials, citizens and federal police involved in working with the refugees for their excellent job. She again clarified the legal status of refugees from Ukraine: it is different from the status of Syrian refugees in 2015. According to her, any Ukrainian crossing the border of Germany with a biometric passport can freely move through its territory for 90 days without a visa and freely enter other EU countries.

Unlike Syrian refugees, who are assigned to specific institutions, Ukrainians can initially stay where they want. According to Feser, their personal data is registered only if they apply to the state for benefits. In this case, they are also sent to certain points of initial reception. In addition, as Feather pointed out, the bulk of the refugees are women and children, and there is no reason to turn this issue into a security issue.

But some questions still remain open. The issue of distribution within the framework of quotas is already being worked out. But who will take care of the transport, who will bear the costs, asks the author of the article?

Because of the magnitude of the task, the federal government must act more actively, said Baden-Württemberg Interior Minister Thomas Strobl. We need nationwide coordination of aid and deployment, and that will also require money. Strobl also urges the federal government to act in accordance with security policy and organize the registration of refugees who have arrived. Otherwise, he said, extremists could mingle with those seeking protection.

Last week, more than 110,000 employees of various Berlin companies were able to feel the pressure on individual federal states. They received a letter from the ruling burgomaster of Berlin Franziska Giffey. In it, she almost begged them for help, Berlin cannot cope with such a large number of refugees. 420 volunteers were wanted to work at the former Tegel airport. Every day, thousands of refugees arrive in the capital, and ’there is no end in sight to this flow.’

The federal government has finally woken up, said Berlin Social Senator Katja Kipping. But there is still something to strive for. The Bundeswehr has allocated 80 soldiers to Berlin to assist in accommodating refugees. Senator Kipping responds to criticism with numbers: night after night, the city creates a thousand extra beds. I would like to hear the same figures from other federal states first, Kipping emphasizes.

On the other hand, small and medium-sized cities want the government to look beyond the megacities. I was very annoyed with Feather’s behavior, says the mayor of Dormagen Lierenfeld. She initially had the impression that the municipalities would somehow be able to deal with the distribution of refugees among themselves. I expect that someone will take care of the distribution and that the coordinated transfer of refugees to municipalities will take place at the stations of large metropolitan areas. In addition, it requires guarantees of reimbursement of expenses.

Meanwhile, in the Saxon capital, Dresden, the boundaries of the planned are becoming apparent. When and how many refugees will arrive? The government of the federal state said that they themselves are often in the dark. For example, over the weekend the authorities were informed that two trains carrying 300 and 400 refugees would soon arrive from Poland. They prepared for a more serious situation. When the trains arrived, there were only 11 Ukrainians on them. The rest apparently decided to leave early, notes the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

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