Police Say Professional Ring Brings In Refugees
BERLIN (AP) _ Police have evidence that professionals are bringing poor refugees into West Germany under the liberal policy on political asylum and advising them how to collect benefits, West Berlin authorities said Friday.
Government officials have expressed concern about a flood of impoverished refugees entering West Germany through West Berlin and communist East Germany. Divided Berlin’s international status prevents the use of immigration controls.
Five Lebanese asylum seekers were charged Friday with assault and attempted robbery in connection with a melee Wednesday with Ghanaian refugees at a processing camp in Rhineland-Palatinate state.
Hans Birkenbeul, a West Berlin government spokesman, said police had found evidence of organized traffic in a note carried by a Lebanese refugee entering West Germany at the Helmstedt border crossing from West Berlin.
He said the letter, written in Arabic, described how a refugee arriving in the Berlin’s Western zone could be admitted without proper visas or identity papers, and also what social benefits were available.
The letter explained how to travel by subway to West Berlin after arriving in the Eastern sector, Birkenbeul said.
‴The asylum seeker then gets put in a camp. But no worry. It’s still better than Lebanon,‴ Birkenbeul quoted the letter as saying.
He said security authorities were trying to identify the organization behind the letter.
More than 43,000 seekers of political asylum from Asia and Africa have entered West Germany so far this year.
West German officials have accused East Germany of enouraging the flow, but the communist government says Western policies are to blame.
Most recent arrivals have flown into East Berlin on the East German airline Interflug, then crossed into the Western sector.