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Germany: Asylum Seekers Should Be Trained as Truck Drivers

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A pilot project in Germany is working to make it easier for asylum seekers to become truck drivers – an initiative that comes amid widespread unemployment for migrants who arrived during the migrant crisis.

The German Red Cross and the Logistics Organisation want to alleviate the shortage of drivers in the state of Schleswig-Holstein with targetted recruiting of asylum seekers, in moves that have been praised as “imaginative and praiseworthy” by regional Economics Minister Bernd Buchholz, reports Kieler Nachrichten.

A similar nation-wide programme of hiring asylum seekers and refugees as truck drivers was pushed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel after she opened Europe’s borders to over one million Middle Eastern and African migrants in 2015, the vast majority of whom are unskilled.

In September 2016, two prominent German driving associations rejected Merkel’s calls – their comments coming just three months before Libyan failed asylum seeker Anis Amri stole an articulated lorry, killed the Polish driver, and drove it into a Berlin Christmas market killing 11 and injuring over 50.

This time, up to 100 refugees are to be recruited and 25 trucking companies are lined up for the programme, which is run in conjunction with the SVG Driving School North.

“Within a few days, there have been 90 people who have expressed an interest from all over Schleswig-Holstein and even from Hamburg. Fifty more refugees have been put on a waiting list,” Kiel Red Cross head Ilka Hübner said.

Hübner added that a “refugee representative” will support trainees during their apprenticeships. The goal is for the first refugee drivers to be on the road by August.

Economics Minister Buchholz, from the libertarian Free Democrats (FDP), said: “With this imaginative and praiseworthy initiative, the Logistics Organisation and the German Red Cross are building a bridge between the integration of refugees and the fight against the shortage of skilled workers.”

The programme heads maintain that refugees will be screened for residency rights and work permits as well as for minimum language skills; however, figures released this week revealed 80 per cent of Germans distrust the government’s screening after the Bremen immigration office was found to have wrongly granted 1,200 migrants refugee status.

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) came under criticism for the handling of Anis Amri’s asylum case after it was found he had broken asylum rules, committed benefit fraud, and was issued papers under several fake identities.

 

 

Before the Berlin Christmas market attack, Tunisian-born French resident Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove a 19-tonne cargo truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day on July 14th, 2016, killing 86 and injuring over 400.

And on April 7th, 2017, rejected Uzbek asylum seeker Rakhmat Akilov drove into a pedestrianised shopping area in Stockholm, Sweden, killing five and injuring 14 others.

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