Refugee crisis

At the Rainbow's End

Refugees often arrive in Germany with little but a few plastic bags of belongings.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany expects 400,000 asylum applications this year. The country desperately needs skilled workers, but has no comprehensive integration plan.

  • Facts


    • Between January and June, 159,927 people applied for asylum in Germany – almost as many as in all of last year.
    • The federal government is responsible for funding refugee accommodation but municipalities say they are not getting enough support.
    • Four in ten German companies complain of too few applications for job vacancies.
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The private space of the Redjep family can be measured by the number of beds in it – five. The metal frames are arranged next to each other, topped with sagging mattresses and musty sheets and blankets. Two screens shield them from their neighbors.

Erwin, the head of the family of five from Macedonia, puts his hands in the pockets of his gray sweatpants and takes a look around the drab refugee center where his family is sheltered, a former school in the old coalmining city of Dortmund.

“I feel like an invalid, although I am as fit as a fiddle,” he says.

Mr. Redjep is one of hundreds of refugees who arrive in the northeast German city every day. “On foot, by taxi or tractor,” said a spokesperson for the mayor. Some stay, others are taken by bus to other cities.

Dortmund, like nearby Bielefeld, is an initial processing point for refugees. From there they are moved to the former school or one of eight other locations. The influx is proving too much for the city, as it is for many municipalities in Germany.

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