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Published on : Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Identified only as Junliang, the 31-year-old mistakenly filled out an asylum request form instead of signing a missing item form. He was trying to report stolen money at Stuttgart Airport, but could not do so because of language barrier, as he could only speak Mandarin.
He was transported nearly 200 miles to Düsseldorf, in the west of the country, and then a further 50 miles north to Dülmen. He was given a medical check, had his finger prints taken, and accepted the pocket money given to him by camp officials.
A German Red Cross worker, Christoph Schlütermann, was the first to notice there may have been a mistake.He doubted he was a refugee. He explained that not only is it rare to have Chinese refugees, but Junliang was also dressed differently.
Schlütermann turned up in desperation to a local Chinese restaurant to interpret for them. They advised him to use a mobile phone translation app to communicate with the tourist.
Mr Schlütermann told the media that, he spoke into the app in German and the app translated it to Mandarin. Junliang’s response had shocked the Red Cross official. He said that he wanted to go walking in Italy and he wanted his passport back, which is very unusual for a refugee.
In an attempt to confirm Junliang’s story, Schlütermann then searched for documents and attempted to contact Chinese authorities.
He got no response, but Junliang was finally released 12 days later on July 20 after he declared in front of police that he was not an asylum seeker.
While leaving the country, Junliang was very happy and he thanked Schlütermann for all his efforts.
More than one million refugees have arrived in Germany in the last year, fleeing war and poverty in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.