Friday 23 March 2018

We cannot take in any more refugees, say most Germans

Migrant policy: German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: AP
Migrant policy: German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: AP

James Rothwell in Berlin

Most Germans have said for the first time that the country cannot take in any more refugees. A survey by the Bertelsmann Foundation found the majority of nationals still say immigrants and refugees are "very welcome, or quite welcome".

But the number of people who felt Germany had reached the point where it could no longer afford an unconditional welcome had risen to 54pc, up from just 40pc in 2015.

"Many feel that the maximum limit has been reached," said the report. "The readiness to take in more refugees has significantly fallen."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has faced strong criticism for her "open-door refugee policy", which saw up to a million refugees and migrants enter Germany in 2015.

The following year a number of domestic terror attacks were carried out in Germany by Afghan and Syrian refugees.

In July 2016, an Afghan injured five people in an axe attack on a train, while a Syrian killed himself and injured 15 others in a suicide bombing.

The most serious incident, on December 19, occurred when a failed asylum seeker from Tunisia ploughed a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, leaving 12 dead.

Anis Amri (24) entered Germany in July 2016, after the EU-Turkey deal and the closure of the Balkans route significantly slowed the rate of migrants and refugees entering Europe.

The study was released shortly after Mrs Merkel told a Syrian journalist that refugees must respect tolerance, openness and freedom of religion.

"We expect the people who come to us to stick to our law," she said.

The Bertelsmann Foundation's study also showed a clear divide in opinion between east and west Germany in attitudes towards refugees.

Around 65pc of Germans in the west said they would welcome refugees "with open arms", compared to just 33pc in the east.

It came as the German government announced steps yesterday to choke off state campaign finance for the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), after a failed court bid to outlaw the xenophobic fringe group.

Handing government funds to the NPD amounted to "a direct state subsidy for far-Right hate speech", said Justice Minister Heiko Maas.

Germany's highest court had in January rejected a bid by the parliament's upper house to ban the NPD. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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