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Refugee by mistake: Chinese tourist ends up in refugee shelter after losing his wallet

Refugee by mistake: Chinese tourist ends up in refugee shelter after losing his walletA Chinese tourist spent nearly two weeks in a German migrant hostel by mistake. He was trying to report about a stolen wallet during a visit to Germany, but instead signed an application for asylum .

The 31-year-old, known as Mr L, spoke neither German nor English, only Mandarin. German authorities discovered their mistake after turning in desperation to a local Chinese restaurant to interpret for them, a Red Cross official said on Monday.

In early July the tourist arrived at the hostel on a bus with migrants, from Dortmund. After being robbed in Heidelberg, Chinese went to the town hall, which he thought was a police station, where he signed an asylum application. He was then taken to a refugee shelter in Dülmen and given food and spending money like other refugees. “He simply did what he was told,” Christoph Schlütermann, an official with the German Red Cross said.

In a refugee camp he underwent a medical check and his fingerprints were taken. The man, from northern China, had calmly allowed the authorities to take away his passport and visa, and take his fingerprints.

After the mistake was detected, his asylum application was stopped and he was able to continue his European tour.

“He spent 12 days trapped in our bureaucratic jungle because we couldn’t communicate,” Schlütermann said. “Germany is unfortunately an extremely bureaucratic country. Especially during the refugee crisis I’ve seen how much red tape we have.”
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