Thomas Mboya Ochieng is a refugee coordinator in Eberswalde, a small town in eastern Germany. His work is not just a job, but his passion – he also came to Germany as a refugee.
Thomas Mboya Ochieng doesn’t have an easy job. As the honorary refugee coordinator, he assists Eberswalde’s 1,100 refugees. But for him, they are much more than just clients.
“I was also in the same process like them. I understand their expectations, I understand their difficulties and I understand where they really need help,” he said in his low, gentle voice.
Ochieng was also a refugee. In 2009, he fled from Kenya to Germany with his two children. He still remembers every detail of this experience – the never-ending interviews at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, the months of fear and agony until his permission to stay in Germany arrived, and his life at the emergency hostel for refugees.
Overwhelmed social workers
“I know from my own experience how terribly boring it is to live in a hostel,” Mboya said. He now feels so much at home in Germany that he mixes German words with English. Instead of ‘hostel’, he used the German equivalent ‘Heim’.
Back then, there wasn’t an office like the one he runs today. Social workers sometimes came to the hostel where he was living. “My social worker was friendly, but she had so much work. There were so many refugees who had questions, some of them making trouble, some were arrogant. The social workers were overwhelmed; they could not assist a lot,” he said.
He’s been the honorary refugee coordinator of Eberswalde since March 2015. He informs the refugee community about the different services offered by volunteers across the town. There are German courses, orientation tours around the city and much more. He also explains to them the different government services and departments they can turn to for help. But most of all he tries to build bridges between the refugees and the locals.
‘He’s one of us’
“Refugees normally do not trust the people they go to for help. When you go through the asylum process here in Germany, you have to go through many interviews and there is a lot of fear. So if the person you seek help from is a German, you must know him properly before you trust him and open up. It’s an important part of my job to build that trust,” Ochieng said.
It’s working well. “He’s one of us,” said Kenyan refugee Wyclif Otieno. He came to Germany six years ago. Working for him is no-go, because he doesn’t have a residence permit. But he came to Thomas Mboya Ochieng, because he still was hoping for something to do.
“There isn’t anything you can do in the hostel. You just wake up, eat and sleep. You wake up, eat and sleep again. And so it goes. But I decided that’s not for me,” Otieno said.
Wyclif Otieno now volunteers at a local charity assisting elderly residents of Eberswalde. “It’s helpful, I have never done it before,” he said. If he gets a residence permit, he would start to look for a job to work with the elderly, he added.
Dreaming of a job at the kindergarten
Somali Malyam Ali Mohammed is another refugee Thomas was able to assist. “When you are new to a place, you always stay at home,” she says with a shy smile. But Mohammed did not want to leave it there. She wanted to find her way around the new, strange town the authorities had sent her to live in.
So she went to see Thomas Mboya. “If you come to this office, Thomas will help you. It’s really good, because if you do the right thing for yourself, you feel good. If you only stay at home, you feel bad,” the 28-year-old said. She first started with a sports group so she could exercise and mingle with locals.
Next was the job issue. In Somalia, she had trained as a kindergarten teacher. Thomas connected her to a kindergarten, which gave her a one-month internship. “It was really great for me. I could not speak much German, but I learnt a lot at the kindergarten. And I made many contacts with children and with grown-ups,” she said.
Malyam Ali Mohammed just got her residence permit, which allows her to work in Germany. She dreams of working as a kindergarten teacher one day – “in my city of Eberswalde,” she said with a broad smile.
Ochieng has also gotten to know the constraints of his post. He can only offer voluntary work and internships.
“They come to me and say ‘Thomas, I need a job’. I cannot just tell them ‘No, you cannot get a job immediately,’ Ochieng said. “You have to find a way to motivate them, and encourage them. You need to tell them: “Relax, wait for the right time to get the job. First you have to learn German, do some vocational training and then you can work.”

The opening scenes of the music video for “Bist du down?” the breakout single from German R&B star Ace Tee, looks like something out of an ’90s hip-hop party: Guys and girls dressed in cool streetwear looks dance against a graffiti-covered landscape. “We’re not really allowed to hang around there,” says Ace Tee, whose real name is Tarin Wilda, of the location—under train tracks in Sternschanze, a trendy Hamburg neighborhood. It’s a raw, unbridled energy and style that harkens back to a different era, one that’s been getting major buzz on YouTube in the weeks since the video dropped.“I was inspired by TLC’s ‘What About Your Friends’ video,” Wilda says. “I wanted to create a new kind of ’90s mood, to inspire people to be happy and to get down with honesty and love.” She adds, “There are a lot of great artists in Germany right now, but the vibe is a bit dark and we are known mainly for Trap music. I want to put R&B on the map here and create my own sound.” Everyone in the music video, Wilda included, brought whatever they wanted to wear to set, with the singer rummaging through the pile of thrift-store jackets and baggy jeans to piece all of the accidentally brilliant looks together.There’s the oversize yellow parka, purple trousers, and gold door-knocker earrings (which Wilda says she stole from her mom who is Ghanaian—“Those earrings are everywhere there.”). In one scene, she’s dressed in a knee-length denim skirt and white mock-neck crop top and in another, a gray Fila sweatshirt. “I’ve always dressed old-school,” the singer says of her everyday street style. “I don’t wear skinny things, which can seem weird to the typically tailored, luxury-obsessed people in this country, but I feel more comfortable in tracksuits and boxy clothes.”

There are more people living in Germany than ever before, largely thanks to immigration. Here's an explanation of what the new numbers mean.
Germany's population reached 82.8 million at the end of 2016, according to government estimates. That's around 600,000 more than the previous year - an increase equivalent to the population of Leipzig - and almost 300,000 more than the previous record year, 15 years ago in 2002.

But without immigration - both of refugees and EU nationals - the population would have shrunk. So what do the statistics tell us?

How many people moved to Germany?

According to the statistics, over the past year at least 750,000 more people moved to Germany than emigrated from the country. In 2015, this figure was even higher, at around 1.1 million.

How accurate is this figure?

The immigration statistics aren't exact, experts warn. The 2011 census proved this: the official count showed that around one million fewer foreigners were living in Germany as had been thought. There are a few reasons for this, for example the fact that many immigrants do not inform authorities when they return home or move to another country, while others end up being registered twice.

What's more, many refugees who arrived in Germany during the 2015 migration influx were only officially registered in 2016. According to Sebastian Klüsener, an expert at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, the actual number of people who moved to Germany in 2016 is likely to be several tens of thousands lower than the official figure.

Where do the immigrants come from?

The 2016 statistics don't show this precisely. But experts agree that as well as refugees from war-zones and crisis-hit areas, economic immigrants from East Europe and other EU countries play an important role in Germany's population growth.

"EU migration was more significant than refugee migration in 2016," said Thomas Liebig from the OECD.

What about births and deaths?

Each year, more people die in Germany than are born there, meaning the population would shrink if it weren't for immigration. The so-called 'birth deficit' is estimated at between 150,000 and 190,000.

"The number of newborns rose slightly in 2016 compared with the previous year, and the number of deaths has risen to roughly the same level as in the previous year," explains statistician Reinhold Zahn.

How can the 'birth deficit' be tackled?

The number of women of child-bearing age in Germany is currently lower than the number of elderly people, meaning that even if these women were to have more children, it would be tough to compensate for the number of deaths.

Herbert Brücker of the Institute for Employment Research noted that: "Migration also increases birth rates," not because immigrants have a particularly high number of children, but because they are generally young.

A record find in the port of Hamburg by Hamburg zoll was 717 kilos of Cocaine hidden in a sea container. The case is related to an abduction case in the Netherlands. Investigators assume an extremely brutal organization is behind this mega deal.

The Director General reported the record on thursday, feb., 2nd, 2017 but did not reveal how much kilo it was. Now the details followed. The cocaine was already secured on the 18th of January in a container from Curacao. This was loaded with metal scrap according to freight documents and intended for transport to the Netherlands.

The perpetrators had tried very hard to hide the drugs. To prevent the drug from being detected during an X-ray inspection, they struck the cocaine packets into lead, stowed them in lead-lined big bags and hid them under metal scraps. In addition, the lead blocks were impregnated with gasoline - presumably to deceive the police dogs. But both missed. Both the X-ray technology of the customs as well as the drug detection machine showed the drugs.

In their further investigations, the Hamburg Customs came across an abduction case in the Netherlands, which is connected with the drug smuggling group. There had been a hostage-taken in the Netherlands last Monday, Jan 30th 2017, which was about the cocaine.

The officials suspect that it is a very brutal organization, which obviously does not shy from further violent crimes. Several members of the gang had already killed each other with the announcement of the confiscation, the authorities wanted to take the explosiveness out of the guerrilla conflict.

Norbert Drude, Director of the Customs Criminal Police, Hamburg said "This assertion proves once again the sensibility of the Hamburg taxpayers and the efficiency of state-of-the-art technology, but unfortunately it also shows the ever-growing threat of the international narcotics smuggling and the growing violence of the perpetrators."

The find is the largest cocaine ever secured by German customs. It is the biggest blow against the international drug smuggling in German seaports since over seven years. The drug is smuggled into Germany in very pure form by sea. Subsequently, it would have been stretched to about 2.8 tonnes for street sales and had a street selling value of 145 million euros.

In 2010, 1.2 tons of cocaine was discovered on a freighter from Paraguay - hidden in a total of 1,244 packages in wooden briquettes.

Never in the history of Hamburg has the Chamber of Commerce (IHK –Industrie und Handelskammer) voting been so important. We are encouraging every one who is eligible to vote not to throw away the voting cards they will receive via post.

The future of our businesses and our childrens livelihood depends on how you cast your vote today. The voting documents have started arriving in your letter boxes.

Those who are not well informed about the voting pattern can contact me onThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call me personal on 017632140550 for clarification. PLEASE DON’T THROW THE VOTING PAPERS AWAY…..

Desmond John Beddy

When It Happened
Previous reports of the incident involving a Ghanaian Man shot by a Hamburg police officer stating that it happened on the 2nd of February, 2016 was not correct. The incident, according to eye witnesses, happened on the 1st of February, 2016.

Where it Happened
The actual location where the incident occurred was at Bremer-Reihe-Strasse in Hamburg -/St George

What Happened
According to eye witnesses, the victim, Augustine Akwesi Obeng, a Hamburg civilian, who hails from Boukrom-Kumasi,  Ghana, was drunk at that particular moment and highly disorderly.
A Hamburg police officer in civilian clothes approached him and that was when all hell broke loose.

The eye witness stated that he saw the police officer spray what looked like a pepper spray in the direction of the victim which had no major effect on the intoxicated victim.

Then the eye witness said he saw Akwesi Obeng lunge towards the plain clothed police officer with what appeared to look like a knife.

But the officer was able to kick the object out of the hands of Mr Augustine Akwesi. Immediately then after the officer pulled out a gun and shot Mr Augustine Akwesi in the leg.

The eye witness then said even though Mr Augustine Akwesi went down on his knees after the first shot, the officer proceeded to shot him two more times.

Eye witness said the officer shot him twice around his mid and upper body sections.

The vice president of the Ghana union, Mr George Kubi, contacted the Chief of Hamburg Criminal Police division, Mr krupper to get more detailed information but was not afforded any further info on the outrageous incident.

The victim who layed down on the street in unbearable pain was later rushed to the hospital where he is stated as being in critical condition.
Story by Michael Duah

US President Donald Trump's temporary travel blocks will also impact over 100,000 Germans with two passports. Figures released by the German Interior Ministry on Monday show that almost 140,000 Germans with dual citizenship would be blocked if they attempted to travel to the US due to Trump’s recently imposed travel bans.

Trump's executive order issued on Friday suspends all refugee admissions into the United States for 120 days, bars all Syrians indefinitely, and blocks citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries for 90 days - including dual citizens. The most recent data on Germans with dual citizenship comes from 2011, and shows that more than 80,000 Germans also have Iranian passports, 30,000 also have Iraqi passports, 25,000 have additional Syrian citizenship and more than 1,000 are also Sudanese.

Another 500 German-Somalians, 300 German-Libyans and 350 German-Yemenis are also impacted. “The figures could at best be seen as an estimate,” an Interior Ministry spokesman said. German politicians have largely condemned Trump’s executive order with Chancellor Angela Merkel saying on Sunday that it was “not justified” to target people based on their religion or background.

The Green party even called for Trump to be banned from travelling to Germany for the G20 summit in Hamburg in July. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that he would be looking into what the US bans mean for German citizens. Trump's travel bans have met with widespread protests at airports in the US where travelers have been detained on their way into the country.

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