Chinese Tourist Ends Up In Germany’s Refugee System After “Unusual” Encounter With EU Bureaucracy

A Chinese man suffered a series of mishaps that led him to become trapped in the country's refugee system for 12 days.


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In a stunning display of bureaucratic incompetence, a Chinese tourist became entrapped in Germany’s refugee system after he tried to report the theft of his wallet. The unnamed, 31-year-old Beijing native, was mugged in the city of Stuttgart. Following the robbery, an unspecified event put the man in contact with the refugee system in the city of Heidelberg, more than an hour’s drive away. The man could not converse in German or English as he only spoke Mandarin. He was inadvertently given an asylum application, which he then completed. This led to his subsequent journey to a reception center in Dortmund and ultimately transferred to a refugee home in Duelman. Duelmen is over four hours away from Stuttgart.

Things went from bad to worse when German authorities confiscated the man’s passport and visa and, yet again, gave him paperwork registering him as a refugee. He was then fingerprinted and given a medical exam. The unfortunate tourist was unable to communicate the mix-up for a total of 12 days until a local Chinese restaurant was contacted for help. He then told them that he did not want to claim asylum and instead wanted to “go walking in Italy.”


Asylum-seekers in Germany Credit – The Guardian

According to the DPA news agency, Christoph Schlütermann of the German Red Cross was responsible for initiating communication attempts with the man. Schlütermann noticed that the man’s well-dressed appearance caught the attention of employees who said, “he was different from the others – very, very helpless.” The mishap was blamed on fate as the tourist had “set the wheels of a machine in motion that he could not initially escape from,” according to Schlütermann. German authorities also said that the man’s plight was driven by a series of unusual circumstances. The tourist, once the situation was resolved, apparently had no complaints and thanked them for taking care of them before continuing his European vacation. Schlütermann later told Reuters that “it was an extraordinary moment for us all. He said Europe was not what he had expected.”

Germany’s refugee system is under great stress as over 1.1 million refugees sought asylum in Germany in 2015. Even Schlütermann admitted that the refugee crisis has caused an increase in the amount of bureaucratic “red tape” due to the high number of asylum-seekers. Most asylum-seekers are from the Middle East or Africa, fleeing the instability caused by conflicts involving foreign intervention in those areas, such as the Syria conflict.

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