Photo credit: Philip Oltermann/The Guardian
Two young Syrian refugees in Germany, bewildered by the myriad regulations and dead-ends inherent in Germany’s immigration system while seeking asylum status, have developed an app to help both new arrivals and ordinary Germans navigate Germany’s labyrinthine bureaucracy.
Munger Khattab and Ghaith Zamrik, 23 and 19, developed ‘Bureaucrazy’ at ReDi, a Berlin non-profit school that teaches asylum seekers how to code. Its basic functions include translating German documents into Arabic and English (some documents in Germany are not provided in non-German languages), helping users with frequently-encountered problems, and helping users go to the right council office.
The two young men left Syria to avoid military service during the Syrian Civil War. Upon arriving in Berlin, they were unable to find the offices they were looking for, and their low German speaking abilities hindered their integration into society.
“Even my German friends struggle with the paperwork here – imagine what it is like for a newcomer,” Khattab told the Guardian.
They hope this app will help others avoid that fate, but also help average Germans–students moving to Berlin for the first time, for instance.
Their project also garnered international attention when it was presented at the Startup Europe Summit. “Lots of Romanians and Spaniards told us they needed a similar app,” Khattab told the Guardian. “And we had thought this was just a problem for refugees.”
The sensitive nature of the application’s purpose and the need for financial backers means Bureaucrazy may take quite some time before users can access the service. But it has clearly piqued an interest with multiple groups of people who feel lost in the dark when it comes to navigating German red tape.