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Police warn female Ukrainian refugees about harassment, luring at Berlin train station

By Calley Hair
Police warn female Ukrainian refugees about harassment, luring at Berlin train station
Passengers move on a platform after the arrival of a train from Przemysl carrying refugees of the Ukrainian-Polish border at Berlin central station Hauptbahnhof in Berlin, Germany on Friday. Photo by Clemens Bilan/EPA-EFE

March 12 (UPI) -- German police are warning female refugees arriving from Ukraine via train to stay vigilant after receiving several reports of men harassing or luring young women upon arrival at Berlin Central Station.

Women arriving at Hauptbahnhof station alone or with young children have been approached by men offering rides or a place to stay, According to German public news outlet Deutsche Welle.

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Some men reportedly posed as volunteers, capitalizing on the chaos of thousands of refugees arriving at once.

The men tend to be "conspicuous" and legitimate volunteers have been instructed to keep an eye out, a federal police spokesman told the outlet.

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He added that the department had seen no evidence that kidnapping, sexual assault or human trafficking had actually been carried out.

In one complaint, a woman said a man tried to lure her with aid upon arrival at the train station, police said.

"We currently have a huge number of people who want to help with honest intentions and, on the other hand, people who want to use this situation for their own purposes," the spokesman told DW.

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Berlin's Federal Police confirmed in a post to Twitter that it had been receiving reports of suspicious behavior at the station.

"Please contact the police immediately if you are offered money for accommodation or observe people doing so," the tweet said in German.

Monika Cissek-Evans, a woman who runs a counseling center for victims of human trafficking, told DW that her organization is working on a flyer to post at Berlin Central Station and other train stations across the country.

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"Don't let go of your passport. Keep your phone with you at all times. Take a picture of the license plate before you get into a car. Ask to see an ID when you are offered an apartment or room. Write down the name and address. Be wary if someone promises you a lot of money quickly," the flyer states.

The German government has offered to provide free short-term living arrangements for up to 300,000 Ukrainian refugees, including accommodations for 100,000 people through a partnership with vacation rental company AirBnb.

Data from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees shows that nearly 2.6 million refugees have fled the country since the invasion began Feb. 24. More than 1.5 million have fled to Poland alone.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday for more than an hour to call for a cease-fire in Ukraine and a diplomatic end to the invasion.

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