Refugees leaving German state over new cash rules – Bild

Lazy eyes listen


Several asylum seekers, especially from Syria and Afghanistan, have fled the central German state of Thuringia after local officials tightened restrictions on how refugees can spend their benefits, Bild reported on Saturday.

Asylum claimants are now given pre-paid payment cards instead of cash handouts under measures put in place in December of last year to prevent them from abusing the system and diverting money out of the state.

The card is only credited if the claimant presents in person at a local office and stays within their allotted district. Shopping is permitted wherever Mastercard is accepted, but the card is only valid in the region designated by a personalised map, making it hard for refugees to transfer funds to their home nations.

District administrator Martina Schweinsburg has confirmed that 200 cards have been handed out since the change took effect last month, with all 740 refugees in the Greiz district of Thuringia set to receive one by the end of the month. 

The head of refugee affairs, Dagmar Pohland, told Bild that the restriction is not unreasonable as the law requires asylum seekers to stay in the district they were assigned to for the first three months. 

Most folks accept the change and are grateful that they are receiving anything at all. However, in December, 15 migrants stated, ‘We don’t want a card, we want cash,’ and left shortly thereafter,” the chief of refugee care added.

“Anyone who is truly on the run is unconcerned about the method of payment. You purchase clothing or food. However, some people receive pricey cell phones, particularly young people and single travellers,” he observed, adding that “the state has tolerated too much exploitation so far.”

The newspaper reported that the total number of refugees fleeing the nation has risen dramatically since then.

Mario Voigt, the head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Thuringia’s State Parliament since 2020, praised the move, stating Martina Schweinsburg is showing other authorities how to get refugee policy in shape.

“What the federal and state governments cannot do, strong local communities do,” he stated, as reported by Bild.

Several other districts have acknowledged the measure’s good impact and announced plans to follow like.