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As nearly hundreds of thousands of refugees flood into Germany from the Middle East in the gravest humanitarian crisis to face Europe since the end of World War II, many are finding that their arrival in Berlin is merely the beginning of more struggles.

“I thought Germany was supposed to be paradise. Everyone used to think that as soon as you got to Berlin, everything would be OK,” said one 19-year-old Syrian immigrant who, though lucky to have made it that far, is facing a new reality of red tape in a foreign land.

Nearly 1.5 million refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and other war-torn regions in the Middle East are expected to arrive in Germany by the year’s end. To date, thousands have died in the dangerous Mediterranean crossing, including many children.

Over 300,000 claims for asylum have been made in Germany during the past year, in addition to the migrants who arrive under the European Union “freedom of movement” pact.

The leaders of the European Union have been debating about the migrant crisis, while the people themselves endure frustrating bureaucratic procedures to obtain better temporary shelter.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn heavy criticism for her stance pledging to keep Germany open to asylum-seekers. The government estimates that it will cost 670 Euros ($747) per month to each immigrant, plus an additional 500 million Euros for housing.

“There can be no tolerance of those who question the dignity of other people. There is no tolerance of those who are not ready to help, where, for legal and humanitarian reasons, help is due.”

Immigrants must follow an as-yet non-standard procedure to begin a new life in Germany after their escape from the violence engulfing their homelands.

In many cases, the claim for asylum may take months to wend its way through various state offices for health, social affairs, housing, insurance before they are able to apply for an apartment or job.

The process involves being assigned a number and waiting in interminable lines to be registered as eligible for accommodation at already overcrowded refugee camps.

As winter approaches in northern Europe, refugees who are exhausted, frightened and alone are facing unfamiliar cold and snow as they wait for action on their request for asylum.

Some refugees have said that they have been victimized by racial and cultural prejudice, while others say they have been touched by the kindness of ordinary German citizens.

A homosexual couple was relieved to be in a country where they are not criminalized.

One young Syrian said, “I lost many things on the way here, but I will start again. I can do it. Even if it's hard for me. Nothing is impossible. After all this is done, I will start German courses and try to get my Masters in Finance. I can do it.”

 

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