AFP, published on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at 16:13
On the morning of the invasion of Ukraine, “my children found me crying at the breakfast table,” says German Katrin Bilger. The shock has passed and the family decides to act.
“Pretty soon the three of us thought we would help in any way we could,” explains this 37-year-old woman, an executive at an international company who is raising her 9-year-old daughter and 10-year-old daughter. one year old son alone. .
Shortly thereafter, the family, who live in the affluent municipality of Kronberg near Frankfurt, opened their doors to 40-year-old Tanja Bila, her daughter Anastasia and her mother Svetlana, who fled Kyiv shortly after their country was invaded by Russia.
“When the shelling started it was scary, we didn’t sleep all night. We realized we had to go. Drop everything and go,” says Svetlana, 69, who was visiting his daughter and granddaughter at the beginning of the war.
Katrin Bilger is one of thousands of households in Germany that have offered shelter to refugees fleeing the Russian war in Ukraine.
The wave of solidarity is more than welcome for the authorities who are struggling to cope with the flow, especially in Berlin, where most of them arrive first.
The authorities have currently registered nearly 240,000 refugees, but the number could be much higher as not all are registered at the border.
According to official information, two thirds are currently housed in private households.
While the majority of the roughly 3 million refugees have so far found refuge in Poland, the government expects their number in Germany to eventually reach one million.
Kronberg, a small town with around 18,000 inhabitants, has organized accommodation for around 400 refugees, around 80 of whom are staying with families.
At the Bilgers, the two women and little Anastasia, 7, have found some stability again in the last two weeks.
That Saturday they prepared a traditional lunch of soup and ravioli shared by the two families.
The little girl has already started school and has started to learn German.
– “Back to where?”
His mother Tanja, who worked as a financial expert in a German company in Kyiv and is also raising her child alone, is worried about the future.
“We don’t know when and where to return. Will our house be safe? Will it be destroyed and we will have no place to live?”
“Maybe we should stay here, learn the German language and start a new life in a new place? I don’t know, I don’t know,” she blurts out.
Kronberg regularly organizes public meetings downtown to educate residents and recruit volunteers.
The community has also set up a center where residents can drop off their donations, food, clothing or medicine.
Tanja goes to this collection point several times a week to help other refugees or to pick up clothes for her family.
“We came with winter clothes and don’t have anything for warmer weather,” she said.