Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Germany is to introduce temporary controls on its border with Austria to cope with the influx of migrants, the interior minister has said.

Thomas de Maiziere said refugees could “not choose” their host countries and called on other EU states to do more.

Trains between Germany and Austria have been suspended for 12 hours.

Germany’s vice-chancellor has said the country is “at the limit of its capabilities” as more than 13,000 migrants arrived in Munich on Saturday.

Germany expects 800,000 migrants to arrive this year.

Germany is temporarily introducing border controls again along [the EU’s] internal borders. The focus will be on the border with Austria at first,” Mr de Maiziere told a news conference.

“The aim of these measures is to limit the current inflows to Germany and to return to orderly procedures when people enter the country.”

Mr de Maiziere gave no details. The move goes against the principle of the Schengen zone, which allows free movement between many European countries. However, the agreement does allow for temporary suspensions.

Germany’s rail service Deutsche Bahn said train services with Austria would be stopped until 03:00GMT on Monday.

The BBC’s Bethany Bell in Vienna says the Austrian government is currently meeting to discuss how to handle the situation.

In his statement, Mr de Maiziere called on other EU countries to “abide by the rules” which stipulate that refugees must apply for asylum in the country where they first arrive, saying that refugees could “not choose” their host countries in the EU.

Many migrants have been refusing to register in countries such as Greece or Hungary, fearing it will stop them being granted asylum in Germany or other EU states.

Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer said the controls had been agreed unanimously in a conference call between leaders of Germany’s governing coalition on Saturday.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has taken a tough line on the migrant crisis, told Germany’s Bild newspaper he welcomed the new controls, saying they were “necessary to protect German and European values”.

On Sunday, the Czech Republic also said it would boost border controls with Austria.

Europe as a whole is struggling to deal with an enormous influx of people, mostly from Syria but also Afghanistan, Eritrea and other countries, fleeing violence and poverty.

On Sunday, Greek coastguards said at least 34 people, including 11 children, drowned when a boat carrying about 100 migrants capsized off the island of Farmakonisi in the southern Aegean Sea.

The BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Greece says it is the largest loss of life in a single incident in the Aegean since the crisis began.

In Munich, police said that as well as the 13,000 who arrived on Saturday, another 1,400 arrived on Sunday morning.

“We lack 1,000 to 5,000 places,” Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (in German).

Earlier on Sunday, Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who is also economy minister, warned the country was being stretched to its limits by the new arrivals.

“Europe’s inability to deal with the migrant crisis has brought even Germany to the limit of its capabilities,” he told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper (in German).

“It is not just a question of the number of migrants, but also the speed at which they are arriving that makes the situation so difficult to handle.”

Mr Gabriel also called on European countries, Gulf states and the US to give billions of euros towards schools, accommodation and food in refugee camps in the Middle East.

Last week, Mr Gabriel said Germany could take in 500,000 asylum seekers a year for several years.

A steady stream of migrants is travelling from Greece, through Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary, to Austria and Germany.

Hungary is aiming to complete a four-metre-high (13ft) fence along the border with Serbia by 15 September, when tougher measures, including arresting illegal immigrants, come into force.

The European Commission announced plans last week for mandatory quotas to share out 120,000 additional asylum seekers among 25 member countries.

Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania are opposed to this.

curled from the bbc

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