Special session of the state parliament NRW prepares for refugees from Ukraine

Düsseldorf · The NRW state premier is preparing for taking in more refugees from the Ukraine, with the capacity of state facilities to be increased. But if some find accommodation on their own, this is also allowed and even desirable, according to NRW Integration Minister Joachim Stamp.

 NRW State Premier Hendrik Wüst (CD) in state parliament.   

NRW State Premier Hendrik Wüst (CD) in state parliament.  

Foto: dpa/Henning Kaiser

NRW State Premier Hendrik Wüst (CDU) informed residents of North Rhine-Westphalia about how Putin's war of aggression will affect people in this state. In view of the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War, the head of the state government spoke of a humanitarian catastrophe. He said that solidarity and compassion was needed. At a special session of the state parliament, Wüst renewed his promise that those fleeing war were welcome in NRW. "Also in the coming weeks, many more people will come to us," Wüst said. People are preparing for this, he added. He said the state had consulted with the top municipal associations and they would increase the capacity to take in up to 25,000 refugees. According to the state government, there is space for 20,000 at present, of which 14,000 places are currently filled.

"A special situation needs special structural solutions." Echoing former German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Wüst added: "Yes there will be snags, it will be difficult. But I want to say this in all clarity: we can do it!”

 Steadily growing influx of refugees in NRW

NRW Integration Minister Joachim Stamp (FDP) spoke of a mammoth task. He said there was a steadily growing influx of refugees in NRW - and the numbers are clearly climbing. "We will also be pushed to our breaking point," Stamp said. He said he had set up a special task force in his ministry to coordinate all efforts at the state level.

 State refugee facilities in Neuss, Viersen, Bonn, Dorsten, Soest and Wegberg have moved occupants to other facilities in order to make them available exclusively to refugees from Ukraine. They can accommodate 4,700 persons, 1,000 refugees have already been taken in.

 According to Stamp, the refugees are not required to stay in the state facilities. "The use of them is voluntary." If someone finds accommodation on their own, he said, this is not only allowed, but strongly desirable. Stamp pointed out that minors traveling alone would be taken into care by the youth welfare offices. If the children and young people formed groups when they fled, they would not be torn apart.

 Demand for a crisis team 

Opposition leader Thomas Kutschaty (SPD) called on the state government to set up a proper crisis team, which would fulfill a demand made by the municipalities. He also said that the government must convene a round table involving representatives of the parliamentary groups, thus including the parliament. Kutschaty pointed out that there was no reliable number of how many refugees were already in NRW. Kutschaty demanded that registration efforts be strengthened.

Green caucus leader Verena Schäffer called for full support from the state for the municipalities, which are currently having to cover expenditures in advance. "So that they don't have to count every euro, but can flexibly rent accommodations and provide good care for the refugees, the municipalities need a clear commitment from the state that it will cover the costs."

Orig. text: Maximilian Plück, Sina Zehrfeld

Translation: ck

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