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Refugee Council: Numerous complaints about payment card

A man holds a payment card in his hand during a press conference / Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa
A man holds a payment card in his hand during a press conference / Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa

Lack of use at markets and clubs, not enough cash for schoolchildren, lengthy approval of bank transfers - there are always problems with the payment card.

Since the introduction of the payment card for asylum seekers, the Saxon Refugee Council has received numerous complaints from those affected. "Weekly markets, smaller grocery stores, legal advisors or sports clubs do not accept the payment card or simply do not have suitable card readers," said Dave Schmidtke, press spokesman for the Saxon Refugee Council, according to a statement. Children can no longer take cash to school for materials, excursions or food.

Smithke reports particular problems with the restrictions on bank transfers using the card. Each time, the IBAN of the recipient must be sent to the district office and approved by them. If some offices do not approve this in time, payment deadlines cannot be met. "Those affected from Hoyerswerda, Bautzen and Pirna come to us with reminder notices and threats to cancel daycare, cell phone contracts or Germany tickets," said Schmidtke. For online purchases, such as on eBay, bank transfers are completely excluded. "This particularly affects people seeking protection in rural areas due to the lack of infrastructure there," said Schmidtke.

In April, a pilot project for the gradual introduction of the payment card began in the districts of Saxony. A nationwide card is to be introduced by January 2025 at the latest, as agreed by 14 of the 16 federal states. Bavaria and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are going their own way. It is hoped that the payment card will, among other things, prevent money payments to smugglers or families in the home countries, relieve the administrative burden on local authorities and reduce the incentive for illegal migration.

However, the Refugee Council criticizes the card as a discriminatory practice. It deprives people with a history of flight of the opportunity for self-determination and democratic participation, said Schmidtke. In addition, no effect on the number of people seeking protection due to the payment cards can be seen. "People fleeing dictatorships, war and misery are not interested in social benefits." The card is also not an instrument for reducing administration.

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