13 Sep 2015

Refugee crisis: Germany introduces border checks

Germany introduces temporary controls along its Austrian border in an attempt to reduce the number of asylum seekers arriving in the country.

An Austrian rail company said that Germany had stopped letting trains enter its territory from Austria, whilst a senior government official warned that the country was reaching its limit to help with the refugee crisis.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the measures were necessary for security reasons.

“At this moment Germany is temporarily introducing border controls again along (the EU’s) internal borders. The focus will be on the border to Austria at first,” said Mr de Maiziere.

“The aim of these measures is to limit the current inflows to Germany and to return to orderly procedures when people enter the country.”

Refugees welcome?

Germany’s announcement is in stark contrast to its rhetoric just one week ago, when the country threw open its borders and waived EU asylum rules that require migrants to register in the first EU state they reach.

Austrian rail company OeBB said that trains between Austria and Germany had been suspended. Tens of thousands of people, most of them refugees from Syria, have crossed Austria by train on their way to Germany since the two countries opened the route last weekend.

“No more trains will run from Austria to Germany,” a spokeswoman for OeBB said. “The Germans will not take over any trains.”

Meanwhile, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a newspaper interview on Sunday that Germany was now reaching its limit as thousands of refugees continue to stream across its borders every day.

“It’s true: The European lack of action in the refugee crisis is now pushing even Germany to the limit of its ability,” he said in an interview published on the Der Tagesspiegel’s website.

The German government is expecting 800,000 new arrivals this year. On Saturday around 13,000 arrived in Munich alone.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban – who has been criticised by parts of Western Europe for his country’s handling of the migrant crisis – welcomed Germany’s introduction of temporary border controls.

“We have great understanding for Germany’s decision and we’d like to express our solidarity,” he said in comments to German newspaper Bild.