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German minister: No upper limit on Ukrainian refugees

April 16, 2022

Germany's transport minister says the government will not set a ceiling on the number of refugees it takes in escaping the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, a survey showed most Germans were keen to help those who flee.

Two women hug each other deeply after refugees from the Ukraine arrive at the main train station in Berlin
Germany has taken in some 320,000 refugees from Ukraine, according to recent figuresImage: Hannibal Hanschke/Getty Images

German Transport Minister Volker Wissing has said Berlin will not set an upper limit for the number of refugees it accepts fleeing Ukraine

Wissing said Germany still needed to be prepared for the unexpected, with more than 5 million people already having already fled Ukraine since Russia started its war on February 24.

What did the minister say?

Wissing, from the neoliberal Free Democrats, the told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland media group there was no possibility of Germany setting a limit on refugee numbers.

"This question does not arise. Germany cannot and will not turn back any refugees from Ukraine," said Wissing.

The minister said his department had done its utmost to bring refugees in from Poland, which has taken the largest share of Ukrainian refugees of any country.

"We have very quickly ensured that fleeing people from Ukraine can be transported to Germany from Poland. There are hubs in Hanover, Cottbus and Berlin for distribution." 

'Welcome class': Ukrainian students attend German schools 

Wissing said the number of people fleeing to Germany by train has since dropped significantly, compared to the peak period at the beginning of the war. "From 8,200 to currently around 2,500 people per day," Wissing said.

However, he added that there could still be an upsurge in the numbers arriving. If there is a threat of congestion in neighboring Ukrainian countries, he said, Germany must again push for EU-wide distribution.

"We are maintaining the logistics and transport structures because we cannot predict the course of the war and can experience an increase in refugee numbers at any time," he stressed. "We have to expect further escalation and be prepared. People in need in Ukraine should be able to find refuge in Germany."

Wissing said the pressure on Poland had been enormous, with some 120,000 Ukrainians fleeing there every day at one point. Warsaw alone has more than 300,000 refugees, he said.

A German aid convoy heads for Ukraine

Most Germans eager to help

A survey for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung showed that two-thirds of Germans have either been involved in refugee aid themselves or know someone who has helped Ukrainian refugees.

Some 44% of respondents had themselves become personally involved, for example, by donating money or goods or by taking people in.

Meanwhile, 49% said they knew someone who has been involved. Just over 30% said they had neither been active and did not know anyone who had already helped.

The pollsters reportedly interviewed around 1,000 people aged 16 and over.

According to figures released by German police last week, Germany has taken in some 320,000 refugees from the Ukraine war, although the real number is likely to be higher.

rc/fb (AFP, KNA)

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