• Germany's news in English

Germany, Sweden need help with migrants: UN

Tom Barfield · 18 Aug 2015, 11:51

Published: 18 Aug 2015 11:51 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Aug 2015 11:51 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"We have to spread the responsibility across more shoulders," António Guterres told Die Welt on Tuesday.

"It is not sustainable in the long term that only two EU countries with capable asylum structures – Germany and Sweden – take up the majority of refugees."

On Tuesday, business daily Handelsblatt reported that the federal government would release forecasts on Wednesday showing that it expects as many as 750,000 asylum seekers to arrive this year – an increase of two-thirds over the previous official estimate of 450,000.

Sweden may take up to 74,000 asylum seekers this year, and took 13 percent of the European total in 2014 -  a massive number proportionate to the size of the country's population.

But Guterres warned that the number of refugees arriving shouldn't be allowed to impact countries' readiness to help.

"Most of the people who come across the Mediterranean in boats are fleeing conflicts and persecution," he said.

"All the countries in Europe have the moral duty to welcome them, and they have a clear legal obligation to protect them."

Joint European action

In a TV interview at the weekend, Merkel tried to soothe the worries of conservative German voters over the number of people turning to Germany for asylum.

Europe needed to "take joint action" to address the problem that would "preoccupy Europe much, much more than the issue of Greece," she said.

Her proposed solutions include establishing a Europe-wide list of safe countries of origin, whose citizens would automatically be ruled out of applying for asylum.

She also said that asylum conditions should be standardized across European countries so as to even out their attractiveness to refugees.

On Monday, International Development Minister Gerd Müller said that the EU should finance a €10 billion aid programme for countries neighbouring Syria so as "to help people in the place where they have first fled in their greatest need".

"If we don't solve the problems on the ground, the problems will come to us," he said.

Germany should do more

Green party spokesman and Bundestag (German parliament) vice-president Claudia Roth wrote in a blog post on Monday that the government's calls for joint EU action were "hackneyed and tiring".

"Every few months, Minister Müller goes public with a demand for billions from the EU," she wrote.

"His demand obviously shouldn't distract us from the unfulfilled promises and the responsibility of Germany."

Roth added that rather than call for the EU to divert cash from existing projects, Germany should fulfill its commitment to spend 0.7 percent of its GDP on "global justice".

Carrots and sticks

Politicians from Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and their allies in the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) have been targeting asylum seekers from the Balkans for special hostility in recent days, saying they are exploiting the German system for money.

Story continues below…

"Experience shows that asylum seekers from the Balkans in particular admit that they come to us for financial reasons," CSU migration spokesman Stephan Mayer claimed on Monday.

Balkan refugees make a "calculation" to stay in Germany and collect money for five or six months "so as to be able to finance their own family in Kosovo or Albania for 12 to 15 months," he said.

Mayer also demanded that 800 extra police officers be deployed to the Austria-Bavaria border to prevent migrants from crossing into Germany.

But in a piece suggesting that refugees could become the "problem of the century", the Süddeutsche Zeitung warned that such language directed at migrants from the Balkans could end up harming Sinti and Roma people.

"The Roma have no home, not in the Balkans, not in Germany, not in France," the paper argued.

But "the subtext of the current debate is that we'd like to be rid of the Roma and take Syrians instead."

SEE ALSO: Merkel: Migrants bigger challenge than Greece

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Tom Barfield (tom.barfield@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd