A Chinese tourist lost his wallet and ended up in a German refugee center for 12 days because of linguistic barriers. The 31-year-old man filled out paperwork for asylum application in Germany when he tried to report that his wallet had been stolen at the airport.
The unnamed backpacker only spoke Mandarin. The crossing started when he arrived at the airport of the southwestern city of Stuttgart. He tried to report the incident to authorities in Heidelberg, which is 78 miles away from Stuttgart. More confusion at Heidelberg’s city hall led the tourist to accidentally filling out the asylum applications. He was taken to a reception center in Dortmund and later to a refugee home in the northern town of Duelmen.
The tourist spent almost two weeks in the refugee camp with little protest, after obtaining refugee documentation. He received shelter, food, and money, but he kept asking for the Chinese passport and visa confiscated by German authorities.
Trapped in the German bureaucratic system?
The head of the Red Cross refugee center in Duelmen, Christoph Schluetermann, said the Chinese tourist got caught in the German bureaucratic system because of a linguistic breach.
“He spent 12 days trapped in our bureaucratic jungle because we couldn’t communicate. Germany is unfortunately an extremely bureaucratic country. Especially during the refugee crisis I’ve seen how much red tape we have. He kept trying to talk to people to tell his story, but no one could understand him,” Schluetermann was quoted as saying by the New York Times.
No one could understand the Beijing native. Authorities had proceeded with the usual procedures they made on refugee centers. German Red Cross officials eventually realized the Chinese backpacker was different from the rest. He looked well-dressed and very helpless. Red Cross Officials then realized that German authorities had received a tourist. Authorities took the traveler to a Chinese restaurant, 12 days later. They hoped to obtain a translation.
According to Schluetermann, once the mix-up was discovered, the traveler remarked he did not want to claim asylum. Instead, he wanted to “go walking in Italy.” The tourist also said that Europe was not what he had expected. He apparently had no complaints and was happy to leave. German authorities claimed the situation was unique, driven by a series of unusual circumstances.