Tens of thousands of Ukrainians are fleeing their country, with many making their way to Berlin | Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance
Tens of thousands of Ukrainians are fleeing their country, with many making their way to Berlin | Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Berlin police have received tip-offs about dubious accommodation offers given to refugee women and young people. This is particularly alarming as the war in Ukraine has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their country in the past two weeks -- with many young people coming to the German capital.

Refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine have been coming to Berlin in their dozens, with many arriving at Berlin's main train station. According the latest media reports, young people and women in particular are said to have been offered dubious arrangements for accommodation.

Berlin police spokesman Hartmut Paeth confirmed with the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) group of newspapers that authorities had received information to that end and are now investigating these claims.

Paeth explained that a police task force at the train station has been sensitized to the issue; police officers will now directly speak to refugees there and inform them about these dubious offers, focusing on minors being approached in particular.

The daily Tagesspiegel newspaper meanwhile also published a report saying that a volunteer at the Berlin main station had heard of rumors of people approaching refugees coming from Ukraine with unclear offers of accommodation. According to this report, chat groups among volunteer helpers are also sensitized to the issue.

Read more: Ukraine-Russia war forces EU refugee policy reversal

No vetting of volunteers

However, there are also fears among aid groups that some people who have officially registered to take in Ukrainian refugees might have less than genuine motivations for volunteering.

Among several other charitable organizations, children's charity "Die Arche" criticized the lack of a proper vetting procedure for volunteers offering help to Ukrainian refugees by providing them with accommodation.

Bernd Siggelkow, the head of "Die Arche," said in an interview with Tagesspiegel that there hardly are any checks on who gets to take in women and children at their home. Siggelkow has called for the government to create more centralized reception facilities for the Ukrainians who have fled — instead of leaving them to the care of strangers.

Throughout the world, thousands of young people end up being exploited, abused and trafficked annually as strangers offer alleged opportunities to them ranging from accommodation to employment to access to migration routes. Many of them end up in forced sex work.

Read more: On German-Polish border, residents rally to help Ukrainians

Berlin at maximum capacity

Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey has also asked for urgent help from the federal government to support the thousands of Ukrainians who have arrived in the capital: "Taking in people from Ukraine is a national task," the politician said on Saturday.

She added that the federal government has to take urgent action through the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) and create a nationwide distribution system -- "otherwise Berlin will reach the limit of its reception capacity." 

Last week Friday alone, more than 11,000 war refugees from Ukraine arrived in Berlin, according to the Senate Department for Integration, Labor and Social Affairs.

Read more: Germany to accept refugees from Ukraine regardless of nationality

With RND/dpa

 

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