On September 18, 2022, the German blog Reitschuster published a story about Ukrainians allegedly traveling en masse on the Flixbus bus from Kyiv to Berlin, receiving social assistance there, and returning to Ukraine. As evidence, the author cites anonymous comments from Ukrainians and indicates that Germany-Ukraine tickets in both directions are fully booked a week before the trip. However, there is actually no confirmation that Ukrainian refugees go to Germany for payment.
This article was prepared by the fact-checking organization VoxCheck, in collaboration with the European University Institute, to debunk false claims in the German media and deliver fact-checks to a broad range of audiences.
This fake has already been debunked by the German factcheckers from Correctiv, they made requests to Flixbus and the public institutions responsible for providing social assistance directly. Flixbus did not confirm the abnormal movement of Ukrainians between countries. Moreover, if you take a look at the volume of traffic between Berlin and Kyiv at the end of November, the largest number of bookings for the return trip from Berlin to Kyiv was recorded for Saturday, December 3, but it is not a full reservation — some trips are still available. On other days of the week, tickets are also available for all trips, there are no sold-out routes.
In a comment to Correctiv, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Employment Agency said that in the case of a person’s established absence, social payments are being ceased.
Hartz IV is the unofficial name for unemployment benefit Arbeitslosengeld II (ALG II, SGB II), which can be obtained at the place of residence or with a certificate of registration in the central register of foreigners (Ausländerzentralregister — AZR). For Ukrainian refugees, the program is available from June 1, 2022. It is aimed at supporting a person in finding a job, so physical presence at the place of residence provided in the application is mandatory. For example, an employment center can offer a job available to a person, and this person will need to appear for an interview. The center also offers language and qualification courses for foreigners to speed up and facilitate the job search process for them. The maximum period of permissible absence is 21 days per year, and only with the prior consent of the center. If a person is absent longer, he loses the right to receive assistance.
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