Propagandists spreading pro-Russian rhetoric on anonymous telegram channels claim that German cities are in debt because of “too much” aid for Ukrainian refugees. They say that local politicians emphasize that refugees “don’t want to go to work” because they receive a large amount of funds as part of social assistance. Propagandists cite statements by officials such as the Lord Mayor of Schwäbisch Gmünd Richard Arnold, the Minister for Migration of Baden-Württemberg Marion Gentjes and the President of the Baden-Württemberg District Council Joachim Walter. At various times they actually made similar statements, which were refuted by journalists from the regional public broadcaster SWR.
1. Ukrainian refugees receive 3,000 euros of net income per family from Germany
This is not true. According to SWR calculations, single parents or family members receive €502 per month, partners in the same family €451 each, children aged 14 to 17 €420, children aged 6–13 €348 and children under 6 – € 318. Therefore, a family of four with two children aged 12 and 14 will have a total benefit of 1,691 euros. But a single mother with two children under 6 years old will receive only 1,138 euros per month. The broadcaster's journalists note that this is not very good for German prices, given inflation. Moreover, of the 177,000 Ukrainian refugees who arrived in Baden-Württemberg between March 2022 and September 2023, only 98,347 received assistance from the state. This refutes the fact that the poor economic situation in the region is caused solely by Ukrainian refugees.
Analyzing the statements of President Walter, journalists came to the conclusion that in order to overstate the amount of assistance to Ukrainian refugees in his statements, he is using an initiative that will come into force on January 1, 2024, according to which the amount of assistance will be increased by 50 euros per person, that is, by approximately 200 Euro more for one average family. But even after this, the increase in the benefit will not reach the mentioned 3,000–3,500 euros. In addition, Walter refers to the fact that refugees still have a lot of benefits, for example, for school children - school supplies or payment for housing. However, not everything is so simple with them either.
2. Employment centers pay for the accommodation of Ukrainian refugees in Germany
This is true, but this solution does not have unanimous support in German society due to its economic feasibility. For example, the industrial union Bauen-Agrar-Umwelt criticized the idea due to the fact that job centers spent too much money on renting apartments. According to a calculation made for the trade union by the Pestel Institute, employment centers will spend more than 20 billion euros on accommodation in 2023. Because of this, the overall rental price in Baden-Württemberg increased from 5.43 euros to 7.75 euros per square meter. Trade unions say the state should provide and build social housing, for example in the Austrian capital, so as not to destabilize the property market.
3. Ukrainians in Germany don’t want to work
This is a standard message of Russian propaganda, which is being picked up by German politicians this time. However, SWR journalists refuted these claims. In particular, they note that the majority of Ukrainian refugees in the region are women with children, who must often care for them independently. Accordingly, due to lack of time and the need to care for their families, they are unable to go to work.
In addition, in Germany there are still problems with the recognition of qualifications and professional training received in Ukraine. For example, SWR told the story of Ukrainian doctor Olha Soloviova, who was forced to work as a cleaner in Germany because her qualifications were not recognized. She currently works in an Austrian clinic. These restrictions are another obstacle for those refugees who have high qualifications and years of work experience and want to work in the EU, but cannot due to lack of recognition of all this during employment.
By spreading such messages, Russian propagandists want to once again discredit Ukrainian refugees and demotivate Europeans to support Ukraine. Detector Media has previously published a great investigation on what other harmful narratives about Ukrainian refugees are being spread by Russians.