- Title: Refugees in Germany feel welcomed despite difficulties
- Date: 20th June 2017
- Summary: BERLIN, GERMANY (JUNE 16, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF APARTMENT BLOCK HOUSING REFUGEES VARIOUS OF REFUGEE FAMILIES INSIDE PREPARATION OF BAKLAVA VARIOUS OF REFUGEES
- Embargoed: 4th July 2017 08:37
- Keywords: refugees World Refugee Day Berlin integration experiences
- Location: BERLIN, GERMANY
- City: BERLIN, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0016M30SP3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:In the eastern Berlin district of Lichtenberg, one of the many communist-era tower blocks is different: its fourth and fifth floors are home to refugees.
Families who have fled from various countries are housed in over 60 accommodation units. Most are from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, but there are also people from Saudi Arabia, Kosovo and Iran.
One of the refugees living here is Khalaf Darwish, a 37-year-old Yazidi from Iraq. He has been living in Germany with his wife and seven children for a year and a half after crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. They have all been given refugee status except for his 13-year-old daughter, due to the authorities mixing up Khalaf's first name, Darwish, and his surname.
Despite this problem, Khalaf says he is very thankful to be in Germany.
"I'm very grateful to Germany and to the people in Germany, who helped us escape war as refugees," he told Reuters, adding that the management of the refugee accommodation had been very helpful.
One of the biggest hurdles facing new refugees is the process of registering with the authorities, as another Kurdish refugee, Ahmed Al-Dalawi, explained.
"We had a lot of problems with the social welfare office. There was only one, and we had to wait for so long, several days before we were seen and could explain the problems we were having," he said.
But for Al-Dalawi the waiting was worth it for the feeling of being safe in Germany.
"When I go out, I don't think that somebody might be about to come and kill me. You go out and feel safe," he said.
Learning German can also be difficult, especially for older refugees. The young children in the Lichtenberg accommodation have picked it up quickly.
Childcare is available where only German is spoken, so they are fully immersed for much of the day.
The next step is finding work - and it can take a long time before refugees are permitted to start looking for a job. That was the experience of Abdel Rhman Alali, a Syrian paediatrician who fled his war-torn home country where he would have been forced to complete military service.
"It was difficult at the beginning, especially with the authorities, getting my residence permit. That took a long time, about eight months," he told Reuters.
Alali now has a work permit and works as a doctor in Brandenburg. He says many people helped him along the way, with learning German, finding an apartment and integrating in general.
He is just one of some 1.2 million refugees who have arrived in Germany since 2015. June 20 is World Refugee Day, which the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR marked with a "Global Trends" report. It reported that a record 65.3 million people were uprooted worldwide last year, meaning that 1 in every 113 people on the planet is now a refugee, asylum-seeker or internally displaced in a home country.
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