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German families to take in underage refugees : minister

Family Minister Manuela Schwesig has introduced a new project to sponsor underage refugees. The government is investing 10 million euros in the initiative to help integrate them into German society.

Schwesig's initiative, called "Menschen stärken Menschen," roughly translated as "People strengthen people" will support projects and volunteers that pair the

underage newcomers

with guest families and sponsors.

Nearly 59,000 migrants under the age of 18 arrived in Germany last year, according to the minister.

Speaking in Berlin, the family minister said integrating refugees was an important task and it would be easier for immigrants to adjust to Germany if they were helped by someone they knew. Schwesig said a large number of people were willing to volunteer in such programs.

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The ministry's initiative would help organize roughly 25,000 sponsors, in which local Germans would help immigrants with registration, renting an apartment or

learning German.

Welfare organizations, foundations, Muslim groups and refugee groups could contribute to the project, Schwesig told journalists.

She said people were spontaneous in helping refugees, but the new project would help convert this into a long-term engagement.

People willing to participate can call 0800/2005070 for more information on the project.

mg/kms (epd, dpa)

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