Berliners supply migrants with water and food as temperatures soar

As summer temperatures soar in Berlin, people in the city donate water, food and other essential supplies to migrants waiting in the heat outside the official building where they hope to apply for asylum.

BERLIN, GERMANY (AUGUST 7, 2015) (REUTERS) – As temperatures hit at least 38 degrees Celsius on Friday (August 7), many people in the German capital were struggling to cope with the fierce summer heat.

Outside Berlin’s regional office for health and social services, where hundreds of migrants were waiting their turn to apply for asylum, the air was also thick with dust.

It is here that migrants arriving in Berlin come to be registered and ask for help. They face a long wait, and one that in such high temperatures could even be dangerous for some, with few shady spots offering some kind of relief from the strength of the afternoon sun.

With migrants in need of basic supplies, many initiatives have been calling on people to donate – and many Berliners have stepped up.

After realising the severity of the situation, people from across the capital started arriving at the building early on Friday morning, bringing with them water, food and other essential supplies for the migrants.

Berliners turned up with cars, vans and even baby strollers filled with water, fruit, bread, biscuits as well as nappies and toys for the children.

Khaled Sarris and his daughter heard about the situation and immediately filled up their van with all of the things they thought could be needed.

“We saw that the people here need things and that there was a call for people to help. I bought the things together with my daughter and brought them here. I’m here for human reasons,” he told Reuters TV.

“I saw yesterday on the Facebook group “Everyone helps everyone” that there is a serious situation here and I didn’t know what to expect. I filled bottles with water and borrowed a bike, bought some fruit and came here. It is really serious,” said another woman, who did not give her name.

As supplies accumulated, authorities notified the Malteser aid organisation, who sent in people to help organise the operation as far as possible.

“You cannot coordinate something like this today. We can only help to make sure that the things that are being brought here are then handed out as quickly as possible with the help of the many volunteers. That’s what we’ve been doing the whole day, making sure that the perishable goods don’t go to waste but are given to the migrants,” Malteser spokesperson Matthias Nowak said.

The help provided on Friday may have seemed a welcome surprise for some amid growing tensions in Germany over surging numbers of refugees. The number arriving is expected to more than double to a record 450,000 this year from 200,000 in 2014.

An opinion poll last week found support falling for the government’s pro-refugee policies.

There were 150 arson or other attacks that damaged or destroyed refugee shelters in the first six months of 2015 as Germany struggles to cope with refugees fleeing war and violence in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.