How Germany helps and hurts its refugees - Part One

Refugees waiting for a train to germany (Image: Wikimedia / BWAG)

Refugees waiting for a train to germany (Image: Wikimedia / BWAG)

There’s been a civil war in Syria for over four years. During this time, European media reported on the increasing power of the so-called Islamic State - still, those atrocities were always at a distance.  

Asylum seekers have long tried to build new lives for themselves in Europe. Traditional migration routes reach across Africa and through parts of the Middle East, ending in countries like Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, France and the UK.

But as the war in Syria advanced, many more people sought a better life elsewhere. Now the total stands at four million refugees from Syria alone. Add to that Afghans, Eritreans and Iraqis looking to escape extremists or oppression by the state. They left to nearby countries and to Europe.

Earlier this year, a wave of asylum seekers came, via the Balkan States and over the sea to Italy and Greece. They wanted to reach Europe and in most cases, thanks to its open-door policy, Germany. The consequences of a brutal war on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea have reached the European Union.

Germany is expected to have taken up over a million of these asylum seekers in 2015 alone. Local authorities, who are ultimately responsible for the registration and housing of refugees, have long been under strain.

In the first part of our two-part report on refugees in Germany, we take a look at one city which is at breaking point - Berlin. Refugees are waiting in the cold overnight just to register at the "LaGeSo" state office.

We speak to state politicians who are frustrated by the situation and volunteers doing whatever they can to give those waiting the clothing and food they need.

Additional reporting by Jonas Schönfelder
Music by Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com)