German Chancellor Angela Merkel
GERMANY is set to welcome 10,000 refugees from North Africa and the Middle East after Berlin made a commitment to play a major role in the EU’s latest resettlement programme.
But the move has triggered an angry response in Germany, with thecountry’s far-right, anti-immigration AfD party using social media to blast the decision on social as “a joke”, while others, including the lobby group Pro Asyl claiming the figure is not enough.
The European Commission, which is the bloc’s ruling body, unveiled the scheme last summer, largely in response to numerous tragedies in which refugees fleeing war-torn parts of the world in the hope of getting to Europe died along the way, often as a result trying to cross the Atlantic in dangerous, unseaworthy boats.
The EU as a whole has pledged to accept in excess of 50,000 refugees, most of whom will come from North Africa.
Host countries will be supported with £438billion from the Commission’s coffers.
But the AfD, which made massive gains in the country’s last general election in 2017 and now boasts 94 representatives in the Bundestag, was less impressed.
The AfD, led by Alexander Gauland and Jörg Meuthen, won 94 seats in the 2017 German general election
A statement on its Facebook page said: “It could be considered a joke.
“Germany should take over more than 10,000 migrants from North Africa on the instructions of the EU. All this just to prevent illegal entry!
“The cat is out of the bag! The federal government has already bowed to the command of Brussels.”
Nonprofit organisation Pro Asyl (Pro Asylum) on the other hand accused Mrs Merkel and her colleagues of not going far enough.
CEO Günter Burkhardt said: “While Germany is boasting about (taking in refugees), at the same time thousands are being sent back to Libyan torture centres.”
Mr Burhardt also called for an end to Germany’s cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard, which he said was making the situation worse
Meanwhile Mr Avramopoulos today met with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to ask him to scrap border controls imposed during the peak of the refugee crisis last year.
He said: “We need to get back to the normal role of the Schengen system quickly,” warning against the reintroduction of permanent border controls in the Schengen area, the area of Europe within which all passport controls have been abolished.
Germany has said it is planning to extend existing checks currently carried out at its border with Austria beyond the May deadline which was originally set.
The EU Commission wants to these to be ended as soon as possible.
Mrs Merkel faced criticism after Germany agreed to process almost 900,000 asylum applications in 2015, a move which damaged her standing going into last year’s election
First Published by Express