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Germans prepare for refugees to arrive in their hundreds of thousands

04 March 2022

Omer Messinger/Alamy Live News

An estimated half a million people gathered at a rally in Berlin last weekend to demonstrate against the Russian invasion of Ukraine

An estimated half a million people gathered at a rally in Berlin last weekend to demonstrate against the Russian invasion of Ukraine

GERMANY is preparing to receive thousands of Ukrainian refugees heading west in the coming days.

The head of Caritas international, Oliver Müller, said on Monday on German radio that there was no doubt that many people from initial reception countries such as Poland, Romania, Hungary, or Moldova would continue their journey. It would then be a matter of “Germany living up to its responsibility”.

Last weekend, the Ukrainian and Russian diaspora communities in Berlin started to organise accommodation and transport for refugees arriving at the Polish border. Volunteers did several tours before the German railways Deutsche Bahn announced that Ukrainians can travel for free on trains.

On Sunday, in Berlin, public transport was packed as people followed the call from civil-society organisations and the Churches to demonstrate. They flocked to the city carrying blue and yellow flags and posters with the slogan “Stop the war! Peace for Ukraine and all Europe.”

Organisers called it the biggest peace demonstration in many years, estimating that half a million people attended.

Speaking to the rally, the new Chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Dr Annette Kurschus, called on people not to fall into a spiral of hatred. “We will not give the warmongering ruling clique in Russia the gift of hating their people,” she told the crowd. What mattered now was to stand by the people in Ukraine and Russia.

Crowds gathered in front of the Russian Embassy on Unter den Linden. Many were from the Ukrainian and Russian diaspora, shouting anti-Putin slogans.

Many Roman Catholic bishops last Friday wrote to their parishes to draw their attention to the nationwide ecumenical services of prayer for peace last Sunday. The vice-chairman of the Bishops’ Conference, the Bishop of Osnabrück, the Rt Revd Franz-Josef Bode, wrote: “Peace on our continent seems to be far away these days.” He called on everyone to pray for peace and understanding, and to support the church relief aid efforts.

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