The district director appreciates helping to overcome the refugee crisis

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Refugees with children wait for transportation at a train station in Przemysl, Poland. Some did not want to come to southern Germany. © Sergei Grits / AP / dpa

District – Maria Rita Zenker, District Director of Ostalgau, rings alarm bells: “The federal government’s distribution of refugees from Ukraine is chaotic,” she said at the last district committee meeting. “There is an urgent need for functioning structures at the federal level and a fair distribution of refugees throughout Germany.”

Zenker acknowledged the “distinguished commitment” of many private initiatives and organizations such as the Red Cross as “proven partners”. She could only “express thanks for the massive offer of help” from across the region. However, one also “faces great challenges”, especially since one still has to take care of refugees from other countries. Last but not least, you also have to deal with the epidemic (see your own report).

Government Director Ralph Kinkel explained to committee members why the distribution of refugees from Ukraine is sometimes so wrong. On March 21, about 150 people were supposed to arrive in Marktoberdorf by bus from Poland early in the morning at 4:30 in the morning. The authorities and special assistants prepared themselves and were on site – the buses did not arrive. It later turned out that the victims in Poland refused to be transferred to southern Germany. The same thing happened on March 25, which caused great frustration among all the assistants and officials. Nevertheless, Maria Rita Zenker campaigned for an understanding of the refugees: “They all hope that the war will end quickly and that they can quickly return to their country from Poland.”

However, as the war is feared to last much longer, the federal and state governments are urgently needed. These will have to make integration offers, create programs for day care centers and schools and their staff, and it will also be important to create perspectives regarding the housing situation of refugees. “Private living space provided by citizens can only be a short to medium term solution,” said the district manager. The district office was also making “extensive efforts to rent more accommodation”.

But until it all begins, according to Zenecker, “every help and every offer of housing will continue to be needed.” The contacts for housing offers are the local municipal councils, which then contact the district office. Applying for housing allowance can be done with as little bureaucracy as possible to cover the costs incurred.

In general, the situation can only be managed if everyone continues together and helps them. Zenker: “We have to do it together and support it with hands and donations.”

It is not clear exactly how many refugees from Ukraine are in Ostallgäu. Since people don’t necessarily have to sign up, there are only estimates, and it goes from 850 to 1,000 without Kaufbeuren. The first 99 arrived on March 13 at 11 a.m. in two buses. By 7 p.m., 88 of them had been mediated, and the remaining eleven had traveled. Zinnecker: “A wonderful commitment on the part of the officials and all the special assistants.” High school and vocational school gyms were the first accommodation options. However, the clear goal is “immediate referral by immigration authorities to special assistants who have offered accommodation”.

As of March 23, according to the district office, 523 people from Ukraine aged 14 and over 100 were registered, including 249 women and 219 children and adolescents. While initially only 15-20 registrations per day were managed, today there are between 50 and 60 registrations, which was to the delight of the district manager. Each registered person receives a so-called bogus certificate, to which he is entitled to work immediately.

At the beginning of the meeting, the participants of the district committee held a minute of silence for the “innocent victims of the illegal Russian attack on Ukraine” (Zenker).

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