Nearly 1.5 million new refugees are expected to enter Germany by the end of the year. Some 500,000 refugees have entered the country since the beginning of September. With no end in sight it does not currently look as though that is a realistic possibility. The situation at Germany’s borders has indeed become dramatic. Last week, Austrian authorities brought over 7,000 refugees to the German border and simply unloaded them there at 3:30 a.m.
In late October, 215 mayors in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia wrote a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and to the state’s governor, Hannelore Kraft, saying that their ability to cope with the situation had been exhausted. Almost all available shelters were full to overflowing, they wrote, and even providing people shelter in tents or containers was hardly possible anymore. Furthermore, the municipalities are so busy with managing the inflow of refugees “that we are unable, or only partially able, to fulfil our other municipal responsibilities,” they wrote in the letter.
The German Chancellor has lost favour in the political arena with her stance on the refugees and opposition parties have called on her to set a limit to the number of refugees that Germany is willing to accept.
Alexander Coggin, a journalist at VICE who is covering the refugee situation in Berlin, says that Germany is very welcoming of refugees and on paper they are really happy to have refugees enter the country, but it has been a really difficult process to implement, especially in Berlin.
“I don’t think that anybody anticipated that this many refugees would come into Germany, not only political refugees, but also economic refugees,” Coggin told VOC News.
An economic refugee is a person whose economic prospects has been devastated and seeks to escape oppressive poverty. Because of global socio economic injustice issues, many of these economic refugees tend to be immigrants from third world countries. A political refugee is a refugee who is seeking asylum from an oppressive government.
“The German Bureaucratic system is outdated, it is still stuck in an East German setting with multiple offices and tons of paper so it is out of date and it’s not the most digitalised,” Coggin continued.
Coggin says that with this system it is not really easy to process all the refugees that come to Germany, but adds that refugees are relived once they arrive in Germany especially because of the brutal assault that many refugees face at the hands of the Hungarian police.
There is indeed much that is no longer working. The federal government has still not made the 40,000 emergency beds available that it promised back in September during an emergency summit at the Chancellery. Furthermore, underage migrants are often put on trains unaccompanied and sent across the country. It still often takes more than six months before refugees can even file their applications for asylum.
Although despite concessions Chancellor Merkel has thus far made, she remains unmovable when it comes to her central convictions. She refuses to define a maximum number of refugees that Germany can accept and she refuses to consider the construction of a border fence.
“Many refugees are not at a point where they can receive employment or housing because their paperwork is still being processes,” Coggin went further.
However, anti-immigrant sentiment is growing in Germany as the initial euphoria over Merkel’s call to help the refugees for humanitarian reasons is ebbing in the face of the problems associated with practicing what has been preached. VOC (Umarah Hartley)