Ukrainians must work – top German MP
Ukrainians must work – top German MP

Alexander Dobrindt wants migrants to stop relying on Berlin’s generous welfare benefits – or go home

The German government should offer refugees from Ukraine job opportunities and deport those who refuse to integrate, a senior politician of the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) has said.

The time has come for Berlin to review its social welfare policies and demand “stronger cooperation obligations for asylum seekers when it comes to taking up work,” Alexander Dobrindt, the Chairman of the CSU Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag, told Bild on Saturday.

“More than two years after the start of the war, the principle must now apply: take up work in Germany or return to safe areas of western Ukraine,” Dobrindt said. “There must be an offer of work and this must be part of an integration effort.”

According to Eurostat, around 1.3 million Ukrainian refugees were residing in Germany as of March 2024, at least 250,000 of whom were believed to be men aged 18 to 60, national media reported. Unlike refugees from other countries, Ukrainians in Germany are entitled to a ‘citizen’s benefit’ of €563 ($610) a month – a level of support markedly higher than in other EU member states. Deutsche Welle reported earlier this year that the employment rate among Ukrainian refugees in Germany stands at only 20%, apparently among the lowest compared to other host nations.

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German officials decry Ukrainian refugee handouts

Several regional interior ministers recently called on the federal government to abolish what they describe as generous financial handouts to Ukrainian refugees – claiming that benefits are making it more difficult for Kiev to recruit new soldiers for the conflict with Russia.

Bavarian interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, argued last week that Berlin should be incentivizing draft-eligible Ukrainian men to return home. His counterpart of the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Thomas Strobl, suggested that the handouts may be impeding “Ukrainians’ defensive fight” by sending the wrong message to able-bodied Ukrainian men. The interior minister of Brandenburg, Michael Stuebgen, and his counterpart from Hesse, Roman Poseck, have voiced similar opinions in recent weeks.

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FILE PHOTO: Senior German opposition lawmaker Thorsten Frei.
German opposition wants Ukrainian men to return home and fight

Ukraine has been struggling to find new recruits as its armed forces have been suffering heavy casualties. This spring, Kiev tightened its mobilization rules and lowered the draft age from 27 to 25. The draft campaign has been marred by widespread dodging and allegations of corruption. 

Kiev has sought to bring draft dodgers back to the country by denying them consular services abroad and the ability to update their ID papers outside of Ukraine. Some senior Ukrainian officials have also said they want Western countries to send draft dodgers back home.

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