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Merkel announces U-turn on boat people

German leader, Angela Merkel today made an extraordinary U-turn on mass migration as Germany today and ordered the EU to begin turning back boats full of African asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean for Europe.

Published: November 7, 2016, 12:25 pm

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    Merkel appears to be clamouring to hold on to power, as the interior ministry announced its significant policy initiative towards mass immigration to Europe.

    Patrols to intercept smugglers’ vessels and escort them back to north Africa, should be considered, her interior ministry told Brussels, indicating a shift in Germany’s official migration policy.

    Currently the EU and member states operate search and rescue operations to save refugees crossing the Mediterranean and then bring them to the European shores to claim asylum. Eventhough the migrants are rescued, more than 4 000 are believed to have drowned at sea this year alone, a sharp increase of the 3771 deaths reported for the whole of 2015.

    But as Germany has taken in well over 2 million asylum seekers in the last year, the policy is simply encouraging more refugees to make the perilous journey. Some 2.14 million people moved to the county last year, a 46 per cent increase from 2014.

    The new policy of intercepting boat people at sea and returning them to Africa, would “save migrants from the life-threatening journey” and “remove the basis for people-smuggling organisations,” the interior ministry said.

    Refugee camps, sanctioned by Brussels, would welcome the boat people in Tunisia, Egypt and other conflict-free north African states, they say.

    German political circles are rife with speculation that her one-time allies might oust Merkel as leader of the country unless she agrees to significantly harden her stance on refugees and win back the confidence of voters.

    Leftwing politicians have boasted that Merkel could leave office within a week if her political opponents round on her.

    The three parties now plotting to overthrow her however, only have a small window of opportunity open to them. The Linkspartei joining forces with the Green Party as well as the SDP. Linkspartei leader Dietmar Bartsch said Gabriel “could be Chancellor next week if he and the SPD wanted it”. But the leftists’ migrant-friendly policies and welcoming attitude towards the influx, are fast losing ground.

    Anger is mounting in a migrant-hit German town after news emerged more than 842 000 euros is being poured into building two Islamic mosques.The mayor was inundated with more than 300 e-mails from angry residents against the plans, but despite most political parties objecting to tax money being spent on the construction, he went ahead.

    In Munich too residents are enraged by plans for a migrant shelter for teenagers, with seven locals taking local authorities to court over the proposal. A wall is being built in the Neuperlach district in the south of the city where authorities say it will protect the residents from the migrant inhabitants.

    Green party adherent and deputy district chairman Guido Bucholtz, told express.de: “I was frightened when I saw this monster of a wall.” He added that the wall was too high. The construction, at four meters, ostensibly built to keep “noise” out, will be higher than the Berlin Wall.

    A German political daily, Focus.de complained that the wall has made the migrant crisis in Germany too visible, “for everyone to see”.

    News of both constructions came as it was revealed the number of unemployed migrants claiming benefits in Germany has more than doubled in a year, with the latest figures showing 498 684 non-European asylum seekers were living off benefits.

    The record number of migrants that have arrived in Germany during the past year, are mostly from Syria and Iraq.

    On top of that, Germany is to investigate all military recruits amid fears Islamic State jihadists are trying to join its armed forces, Sky News reported. A spokesman for the counter-espionage service (MAD) said 20 Islamists had been identified in the Bundeswehr and 60 other potential cases were being investigated.

    The German parliament wil be considering legislation making it mandatory for all recruits to be screened in a bid to stop jihadists infiltrating the military to obtain weapons training, according to German media group Funke.

    The spokesman for MAD said recruiting offices had received a marked number of queries from people who wanted join the military for just a few months. They had expressed an interest in intensive weapons and equipment training, he said.

    karin@praag.org

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