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Ministers bid to disperse refugee influx

By Agencies in Brussels | China Daily | Updated: 2015-09-15 08:21

European ministers were due to hold emergency discussions on Monday on plans to distribute migrants around the continent.

The move came as Germany reintroduced border controls after admitting it could no longer cope with the influx.

The dramatic reinstatement of border checks on Sunday signaled a U-turn on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to throw open the country's borders to Syrian refugees.

Ministers bid to disperse refugee influx

Police watch as migrants are taken off a train at a border station in Freilassing, Germany, on Monday. Dominic Ebenbichler / Reuters

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, "The aim of these measures is to limit the current inflows to Germany and to return to orderly procedures when people enter the country."

Migrants must understand "they cannot choose the states where they are seeking protection", he told reporters as Germany also temporarily halted all train traffic to and from Austria.

The European Union said on Sunday, "The German decision ... underlines the urgency to agree on the measures proposed by the European Commission in order to manage the refugee crisis."

A plan to distribute 160,000 refugees to relieve pressure on "front-line" states such as Italy, Greece and Hungary faces strong resistance from countries including the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania.

Hungary, which is building a fence along its border and says it will start arresting illegal migrants this week, wants much stricter controls around the perimeters of the EU.

Germany's reintroduction of border controls threatens to undermine the Schengen system, which allows passport-free travel among many nations in the bloc.

Germany's actions were welcomed by Hungary's hard line Prime Minister Viktor Orban. "We understand that this decision was necessary in order to defend Germany's and Europe's values," he told the Bild newspaper.

Hungary, which reported a record 4,330 newcomers on Saturday alone, was racing to complete a controversial anti-migrant fence on its border by Tuesday, when tough new laws will take effect.

The developments came as tragedy struck again off the coast of Greece, with 34 more migrants - including four babies and 11 children - drowning when their overcrowded wooden boat capsized in high winds.

In Munich, overwhelmed officials said they were stretched to capacity, with more than 13,000 people arriving in the city on Saturday.

AFP - Reuters


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