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945 refugees at Messegelände: New arrival center starts next week

  • Ukraine-Krieg - Berlin

    Refugees from Ukraine are in a cordoned-off area in the mess hall.

  • Flüchtlinge am Hauptbahnhof (4)

    War refugees from Ukraine walk to the tent of the Berlin City Mission at Berlin Central Station, which serves as a first port of call for refugees.

  • Flüchtlinge am Hauptbahnhof (2)

    A child sits wrapped in a blanket on a suitcase and leans against his mother while they wait for a train at Berlin Central Station.

  • Flüchtlinge am Hauptbahnhof (1)

    On her mom's arm, 3-year-old girl Margarita looks into the camera in front of the travel center at the main station. She comes from Ukraine with her mother and sister. They had to leave their father behind in their hometown Dnipropetrovsk ("Dnipro" they say for short).

  • Flüchtlinge am Hauptbahnhof (3)

    Mother Irina and daughter Amira (7) wave goodbye as they walk to the track.

Almost a thousand new refugees from Ukraine have been accommodated in emergency shelters of the state of Berlin on Saturday night.

In two halls at the exhibition center, 945 beds were occupied, said a spokesman for the Senate Social Administration. On Saturday (March 12, 2022), a third and fourth hall are also scheduled to go into operation. They are intended for refugees who arrive late in the evening or at night.

Onward travelers spend the night at the station

In addition, 2600 people had spent the night at the main station in trains of the railroad, BVG buses and in two large tents, said the spokesman. These people had voluntarily stayed at the station because they wanted to continue their journey on Saturday. In the future, the catering for the refugees at the main station will be taken over and paid for by the federal government and Berlin. Together with the Messe, 10,000 food portions per day will be provided to start with: Soup, sandwiches, fruit, sweets, tea and water.

It is not known how many refugees arrived in total on Friday and Saturday, because people only partly register and often continue on their own or visit relatives or friends. Further numbers are expected to rise, the spokesman said. "It's getting more and more difficult every day because of the lack of capacity."

New arrival center at former Tegel Airport

On the site of the former Tegel Airport, another 500 emergency overnight accommodations are being completed. The new arrival center is also scheduled to open there as soon as possible, but that will happen next week rather than over the weekend. The Senate is still waiting for support from the federal government for the planned registration and the organization of the onward journey by bus.

Emergency accommodation at BER under discussion

Berlin's Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) recently spoke of a distribution center for more than 10,000 people a day and a shelter with up to 3,000 places. She said that consideration is also being given to using a disused terminal at BER Airport as emergency accommodation. The former Tempelhof Airport is also being considered, she added.

Many women with children and teenagers

At the main station on Saturday, there were especially women with children and teenagers who got off trains, went to the large arrival tent or continued on to other cities. Children carried stuffed animals, some families had taken real pets like dogs or cats with them on the flight from their bombed homeland. Husbands and fathers often had to stay in Ukraine to fight.

"In two weeks at the latest, I need to know where we want to stay"

A mother spent the night with her daughters Alina (14) and Amira (7) in the train station. "At least it was warm there," she said. They had left their hometown of Zaporizhzhya six days ago and had been "traveling ever since," she recounted through tears. Irina speaks little English and initially followed the advice of friends who told her that Germany or France would be good destinations. But now the problems with the foreign language are too much for her, she indicated. She got tickets to go back to Poland. But time is pressing: "In two weeks at the latest, I have to know where we want to stay," because the older daughter is supposed to graduate from high school.

Author: dpa/
Publication date: 12 March 2022
Last updated: 12 March 2022

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