Refugees in Germany are warned of thieves
By Christopher F. Schuetze
Ukrainians fleeing war in their homeland remain vulnerable when arriving in Germany, the authorities in Berlin have warned, saying that thieves have been targeting the refugees — mostly women and children — at Berlin’s main train station and bus depot.
The police have hung flyers printed in both Ukrainian and Russian and have posted on social media that the refugees should avoid dubious offers of aid and warned of the potential for criminal activity, including human trafficking and sex offenses.
“My colleagues regularly find gangs of thieves who try to exploit the defenselessness and exhaustion of women traveling alone with children, in particular, in order to steal their last valuables,” Carsten Milius, an official from the Bund Deutscher Kriminalbeamter, a police union, told Der Tagesspiegel, a Berlin daily newspaper.
The police in Berlin have also been keeping track of registered sex offenders in the city, said Iris Spranger, a Berlin lawmaker responsible for city security. She added that besides uniformed officers, plainclothes officers had also been stationed at arrival sites.
“From very early on, we focused on the safety of the refugees because they are mostly women and children,” Spranger told the regional public broadcaster RBB.
Of the more than 4 million refugees who have fled Ukraine since the war began in February, half are children, according to newly released figures from UNICEF. More than a quarter-million refugees have made it to Germany, according to the federal police. Roughly 3,000 arrived in Berlin via train or bus on Tuesday alone, according to the authorities in Berlin.
Michael Spiess, a spokesman for the federal police in Berlin, said that extra units had been deployed to the train station and were coordinating closely with aid workers.
In the days after Russia invaded Ukraine, hundreds of people greeted refugees arriving in Berlin with offers of places to stay, food or money, but that has given way to an organized team of registered volunteers, who wear matching vests identifying them as aid workers.
Special buses run continuously from Berlin Central Station, the main train station, and from the city’s bus depot to a recently decommissioned airport, where aid organizations have set up 2,600 beds for people to rest before moving to more permanent lodging.