EU states slam Ukrainian ‘social tourism’ — RT World News
German and Polish politicians have pointed to cases of abuse of the welfare system
German opposition leader Friedrich Merz came under fire on Tuesday for pointing out that some Ukrainians who had sought refuge in his country were continuing to return home while accepting social benefits. Although Merz apologized, the mayor of Przemysl in Poland – who said much the same thing on Monday – did not.
“We are now experiencing social tourism from these refugees: in Germany, back to Ukraine, in Germany, back to Ukraine,” Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Merz told Bild TV on Monday.
His comments drew a wave of condemnation from the ruling coalition, according to state broadcaster Deutsche Welle. Home Secretary Nancy Faeser of the Social Democratic Party accused Merz of using « Ukrainian women and children » to make a political point, while Free Democrat parliamentary leader Christian Duerr said Merz’s words were “absolutely irrelevant. »
Faced with such an onslaught, Merz backed down. “I regret the use of the word “wellness tourism”. This was an inaccurate description of a problem seen in individual cases,” he tweeted tuesday. « Far be it from me to criticize the refugees from Ukraine, who face a difficult fate. »
While Germany has hosted nearly one million Ukrainian refugees, Poland hosts more than four times that number. Wojciech Bakun is the mayor of Przemysl, a town of around 60,000 people on the Ukrainian border. On Monday, he wrote on Facebook that some Ukrainian refugees were engaged in a « organized system of extortion of social benefits. »
« It is impossible not to notice the organized transport of women with children, who have cards with written instructions on the procedures they must follow to receive material and financial assistance », Bakun said, describing how they line up outside government offices every day to get benefits, « then, in an organized transport, they return to Ukraine. »
Many Ukrainian refugees also leave Poland for almost 30 days, but return before that deadline in order to maintain their status, according to local media Kresy.
Poland has no instruments to prevent this behavior, complained Bakun, and wondered why Warsaw had not yet noticed the problem of « exhausting the Polish welfare system. »
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