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Poland to take more active role in caring for homeless on Berlin’s streets

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Poland to take more active role in caring for homeless on Berlin’s streets
A camp in Berlin's Tiergarten park. Photo: DPA
11:24 CET+01:00
The Polish government has said it will take a more active role in looking after the thousands of Polish people living on the streets of the German capital.

“Next year social workers financed by the Polish state will search for Polish people in need and give them advice,” Dariusz Pawlos, the spokesman for the Polish embassy told AFP on Wednesday.

“The social workers will talk with the homeless people and organize help or a trip back home,” he said.

Berlin authorities and charities have been put under increasing strain by the swelling numbers of homeless people on the city’s streets in recent months.

In October several homeless camps in Tiergarten, the wooded park in the centre of the city, were cleared after the district mayor complained of increased lawlessness in the green space.

“We can only estimate the numbers of Polish people living on German streets based on the information provided by charities on the ground,” said Pawlos. “But we believe that there are more than 2,000 Poles living on the streets of Berlin alone. The embassy is taking this very seriously.”

Currently, Polish people who have ended up on the streets of German cities have to turn to their local consulate if they need help. But, as of next year, the Polish senate has released extra funding for Polish charities to actively seek out Polish people in need, to offer them advice.

There are around 783,000 Polish citizens currently living in Germany. The vast majority have work and housing.

But Pawlos explained that “if people fail in their efforts to find jobs they often stay here, as they are ashamed to go back home.”

For others, homelessness is easier in Germany than at home, he argued.

“Polish homeless people find life in the rich west easier. They can collect bottles and beg - and there are many charities.”

READ MORE: How Berlin is struggling to deal with growing homelessness in its parks

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