In a surprising turn of events, thousands of refugees have decided to leave Germany after the government gave them cash instead of bank cards as part of a new integration program. The refugees, who mostly came from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, said that they preferred the convenience and security of plastic money over paper bills.
The government’s decision to switch from bank cards to cash was meant to encourage the refugees to learn how to manage their finances and to stimulate the local economy. However, the plan backfired, as many refugees found the cash cumbersome, confusing, and risky.
“I don’t like cash. It’s heavy, dirty, and easy to lose. I don’t know how to count it or use it. I miss my bank card. It was simple, fast, and safe. I could buy anything online or in the shops with just a swipe,” said Ahmad, a 25-year-old refugee from Aleppo, who packed his bags and headed to France.
Many refugees also complained that the cash made them targets for thieves and scammers, who took advantage of their lack of familiarity with the currency and the exchange rates. Some refugees reported that they were robbed, cheated, or harassed by locals who demanded cash for goods or services.
“I was walking in the street with my cash in my pocket, and a man came up to me and offered me a bike for 50 euros. I thought it was a good deal, so I gave him the money. But then he ran away with the bike and the money. I was left with nothing,” said Fatima, a 32-year-old refugee from Mosul, who decided to move to Sweden.
The government has expressed its regret and disappointment over the mass exodus of refugees, and said that it will review its policy and consider other options to help the refugees integrate into the society and the economy.