Politics, Europe, Russia-Ukraine War

Debate on social assistance for Ukrainian refugees sparks controversy in Germany

Social assistance given to refugees from Ukraine should be reduced, says secretary general of Free Democratic Party

Erbil Başay  | 18.06.2024 - Update : 18.06.2024
Debate on social assistance for Ukrainian refugees sparks controversy in Germany


Social assistance provided to Ukrainians living in Germany who have fled due to the Russia-Ukraine war has become a contentious issue.

Bijan Djir-Sarai, secretary general of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a minor coalition partner in the government, said in an interview with the Bild newspaper that it should be reduced.

Djir-Sarai suggested that in the future, Ukrainian refugees should receive aid under the asylum law rather than social assistance known as "Bürgergeld" (citizen's income).

"We have labor shortages everywhere --for example in gastronomy, construction or the care sector. Taxpayers' money should no longer be used to finance unemployment but should instead help people find jobs," he said.

Brandenburg state Interior Minister Michael Stubgen echoed this sentiment, claiming that social assistance through "citizen's income" prevents Ukrainian refugees from starting work in Germany.

Stubgen also criticized the social assistance given to Ukrainian men who come to Germany instead of fighting for their country, saying that supporting Ukraine in the best possible way while giving money to Ukrainian "draft dodgers" does not align.

Bavaria state Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann also argued that the German government's decision to provide immediate "citizen's income" to Ukrainians fleeing the war was a mistake.

Herrmann also called for a change in the attitude towards Ukrainian “draft dodgers,” noting that Germany cannot support Ukraine against Russia while simultaneously encouraging those obliged to serve in the military to come to Germany with unconditional social assistance.

Meanwhile, Martin Rosemann, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), refuted the claim that "citizen's income" prevents Ukrainian refugees from working.

He said Ukrainian refugees could be integrated into the job market thanks to "citizen's income" and the efforts of the Federal Employment Agency.

Rosemann emphasized that determining whether a person is a draft dodger is not the duty of the German authorities.

Lower Saxony state Social Affairs Minister Andreas Philippi said that whether cutting "citizen's income" would provide more soldiers to Ukraine in the short term should be objectively discussed in Germany.

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