Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Refugee crisis: Germany says it could take 500,000 people a year - live

  • Donald Tusk warns of ‘exodus’ lasting years.
  • Merkel backs quota system as ‘minimum’
  • Record number of Syrians cross into Macedonia
  • Read the latest summary

The Guardian


French officials have travelled to Munich to prepare to accept thousands of the refugees who have arrived there to be transferred to France, writes our Paris correspondentAngelique Chrisafis.
The refugees, who include Syrians, Iraqis and Eritreans, will be taken to France to relieve pressure on Germany, the French government has said.
A further 24,000 refugees will be welcomed to France over the next two years, the president François Hollande said on Monday. The government is to hold talks with mayors and local officials this weekend to work out housing for refugees.
But there is debate in France about public opposition to taking more refugees. A poll conducted by Odoxa for Le Parisien, after the images of the drowned 3-year-old boy Alan Kurdi had shocked the world, found that a majority of French people, 55%, were opposed to France acting in the same way as Germany by loosening its conditions for refugee status. A total of 62% of French people felt those fleeing Syria should be treated as migrants like any others. Only 36% felt Syrians should be given a better welcome as refugees from war.
The historian Benjamin Stora, who heads the board of France’s Museum of the History of Immigration, warned that the reasons for French public reticence went beyond France’s current economic crisis and millions of unemployed. Writing in Le Monde, he argued that far-right ideology had permeated debate in the country and more must be done to reverse negative stereotypes in France, which was historically a country that had welcomed asylum-seekers.
Several thousand people demonstrated across France in solidarity with refugees this weekend.
Thousands of people are still trying to cross from Greece into Macedonia, after a record number of 7,000 Syrians arrived in the last few days. A selection of images from today provides a glimpse of the scene.
TOPSHOTS Migrants and refugees board a train after crossing the Macedonian-Greek border near Gevgelija.
 Migrants and refugees board a train after crossing the Macedonian-Greek border near Gevgelija. Photograph: Robert Atanasovski/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants and refugees wait to cross the Greek-Macedonia border near the village of Idomeni, in northern Greece .
 Migrants and refugees wait to cross the Greek-Macedonia border near the village of Idomeni, in northern Greece . Photograph: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images
People gather at a refugee camp in the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija.
 People gather at a refugee camp in the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija. Photograph: Borce Popovski/AP
Poland’s president Andrzej Duda has repeated his government’s objections to a Europe-wide system of refugee quotas imposed.
Echoing an argument that has also been made by David Cameron, Duda said:
“In Europe the talk is all the time about fighting the systems, and not the causes of the crisis. Europe is in a kind of a closed circle.”
Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said last week that the European Union must help people who flee wars and Poland is ready to discuss its role but does not want to accept automatic quotas.
Hassan Abu Walied, a 45-year-old father of two from the war torn northern Syrian city of Aleppo has made it to a refugee camp in Nuremberg, after a journey of bribes and beatings via Macedonia and Hungary.
He told the Guardian’s Mona Mahmood why he shunned refugee camps in Turkey.
If I had the choice, I would have chosen to go to Netherlands to apply for asylum, but the German police arrested me right after I stepped onto German soil and took my fingerprint.
The camp in Nuremberg is congested with more than 750 Syrian, Iraqi, Sudanese and Albanian refugees. The queue for the breakfast in the morning can take two hours for a single man. The Turkish staff always give preference to families. “You have to wait till the families have their breakfast or you will be sent back to Syria,” they say.
My main concern was to take my family out of Aleppo before we were killed by a random shelling or bullets from snipers. But I didn’t want them to risk the journey to Greece.
I thought about registering with the UN in Turkey to help get settled in Europe or the US, but the wait was too long. The UN said it might be 2022 before I could leave Turkey. I couldn’t survive that long in Turkey without having any income.
So I went with my two brothers who had lost their houses and businesses in Aleppo, and travelled on a shaky cracked boat filled with 50 refugees. The trip from Azmir cost us $1,150 each.
We only got to the Greek coast after help from the coastguard. The boat’s motor broke down after six hours at sea.
I then used GPS to guide me to the Macedonian borders. I and many other refugees were kicked by the Macedonian police. They held us overnight and then started to release 10 refugee every hour.
The situation at the Serbian borders was better but we had to pay to get there. The train ticket was €5 from Belgrade, but we had to pay €25, and when we got in the train, the inspector charged us another €50.
We walked along corn fields and were then seized by the Hungarian police who would only release us after we paid €200. Then, we took a taxi for €650 to take us to Budapest. There we met a smuggler who transferred us by a van to Germany after paying another €475. The van was supposed to have only eight passengers but there were 20 of us inside.
I used to live as a king in in Aleppo, with a thriving wood business, but there is no future in Syria. The war might last for another 20 years. I don’t want my little kids to turn into beggars or thieves. I want them to have a good education in Germany and that’s why I left Turkey for Germany.
Hassan Abu Walied
 Hassan Abu Walied Photograph: Handout


Here’s a summary of the latest developments:
In her press conference Merkel also called for an open asylum system to replace the Dublin III arrangement under which asylum applications have to be processed at the point of entry to the EU.
She said the Dublin system “no longer works” as it means that both Italy and Greece are left to take in the bulk of Europe’s refugee influx.
“We must discuss a new asylum policy,” AFP reported her saying.
Berlin has already stopped applying the rule for Syrians, and is allowing citizens of the war-torn country to apply for asylum in Germany irregardless of their first port of arrival in the EU.
“I’m seldom so convinced that this task will also determine Europe’s future and whether the continent really accepts the value ... of individual freedom,” Merkel said.
“On this question, the whole world is watching. And we’re not just saying Syria is so far away from us. Rather, we’re simply taking care of the problem,” she added.
Whether you are a refugee or supporting refugees share your experiences, photos or videos with us by clicking on the GuardianWitness ‘contribute’ buttons on the top of this blog, filling in our form, or via WhatsApp by adding the contact +44 (0) 7867 825056
The House of Commons is about to debate Britain’s response to the refugee crisis. You can follow the debate from 1.30pm on this live feed.
 Live feed of a House of Commons debate on the refugee crisis.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
 German Chancellor Angela Merkel Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has given her backing to the EU quota plan to accept an extra 160,000 refugees.
She said the quotas suggested under the scheme, including Germany’s allocation of 31,000 refugees, were a minimum.
“This joint European asylum system cannot just exist on paper but must also exist in practice - I say that because it lays out minimum standards for accommodating refugees and the task of registering refugees,” she told a joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in Berlin.
Earlier German’s vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said Germany could take 500,000 refugees for several years.
Merkel said that European Union states needed to find a joint solution to the refugee crisis, rather than threatening each other if they did not collaborate.
“I personally, and we spoke about this, am of the opinion that we should not now outbid each other with threats,” she said. “We should speak to each other in a spirit of mutual respect.”
At Roszke, Hungary’s border town with Serbia, there have been more reports of scuffles between asylum seekers and the security forces.
Migrants made two attempts Tuesday to break free from a police line at a collection point for migrants in Roszke but were pushed back, according to AP. Some migrants said it was so bad that they wanted to return across the border to Serbia, but Hungarian police wouldn’t let them.
One Syrian who only gave his first name, Ali, was angry at the treatment by police.
He said: “We’ve been here for two days and the Hungarian government only brings one bus? We’re asking to go back to Serbia and they are not giving us this right. We’re asking to go to Budapest and they are not giving us this right. Why? Why?”
But another reporter in the area, NBC’s Carlo Angerer, said police appear to have given up trying to stop people running through fields at the border.
The BBC’s Imelda Flattery confirmed the report.

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