'It's not easy': Covid-19 crisis threatens refugees' integration in Berlin

Hasan is a Syrian refugee living in a Berlin asylum centre.
Hasan is a Syrian refugee living in a Berlin asylum centre. © FRANCE 24

As well as claiming lives, the coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on livelihoods, educational paths and mental health – all the more so for new members of a society working to gain a foothold. In Germany, hundreds of thousands of refugees who came into the country five years ago are now finding it harder to fully integrate in their new country because of Covid-19 restrictions.


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In Berlin, beyond the higher number of asylum-seekers fighting coronavirus infections during the pandemic's second wave, many remain cut off from the world in asylum centres, unable to find work. Some 20,000 refugees live in such centres in the German capital.

"In normal times, our residents physically go to German classes," Berlin asylum centre director Peter Hermanns told FRANCE 24. "That's not possible now. Some have a hard time working online and give up."

For those who already have a foot in the door in German society, the situation is also precarious. Food delivery is helping restaurant owner Samer Hafez hang on during the pandemic but, as he told FRANCE 24, the crisis cannot last too much longer if his business is to stay afloat.

FRANCE 24's Anne Mailliet, Kilian-Davy Baujard, Willy Mahler and Nick Spicer report from Berlin.

To watch the report, click on the video player above.

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