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Chinese tourist signs asylum papers by mistake, spends 12 days in German migrant centre! He did not speak the language!
The 31-year-old backpacker, only known as Mr L, spoke only Mandarin and the mistake was only discovered thanks to a translation app and a translator from a local Chinese restaurant.
The man’s wallet had been stolen in Stuttgart but instead of filing a stolen goods report, heunwittingly applied for asylum in Germany.
Mr L, from northern China, allowed authorities to take away his passport and visa, and takehis fingerprints. He then had a medical check and was placed in a migrant hostel, where he had meals.
Christoph Schluetermann, an official with the German Red Cross, which runs the refugee home in Duelmen, told news agency DPA on Monday that the man “set machinery in motion that he couldn’t get out of.”
“He simply did what he was told,” Schluetermann said, adding that the man “was so different from the others” and he looked “very, very helpless”.
With help from a translation app, Schluetermann realised Mr L got embroiled in the asylum system by mistake. “It came up with phrases like ‘I want to go on a trip abroad’,” he said.
The Red Cross made calls to various consulates with the hope to identify the tourist, with no result. Finally, his asylum application was stopped and the man was released to continue his tour of Europe.
“He spent 12 days trapped in our bureaucratic jungle because we couldn’t communicate,” Schluetermann said. “Germany is unfortunately an extremely bureaucratic country. Especially during the refugee crisis I’ve seen how much red tape we have.”
The man reportedly told German broadcaster WDR that he had imagined Europe to be quite different.